5 Tips to Up Your Influence Factor

Written by Posted On Sunday, 15 September 2019 05:25

I once interviewed a high-powered executive, and asked “How would you rate your personal and professional influence factor?”

His response was, “I’m the CEO of a very successful business, so my influence factor is terrific.”

But when I talked with the CEO’s staff, I found they had a very different opinion. The CEO was clearly out of touch about his own influence factor.

The way you are perceived in all areas of communication determines your ability to influence others and to be credible. Your title or designations aren’t enough anymore; you have to actually be able to influence others!

Author Stacey Hanke, in her book “Influence Redefined”, states that your influence factor must be evident “Monday to Monday”. She makes the point that influence is part of your personal power every minute of every day. Consider your daily opportunities to connect and influence with blogs, social media, meetings, emails and text messages. As Hanke states, “Every day is game day”.

In psychology there is a phenomenon known as “Illusory Superiority”, or more commonly, the “Above Average Effect.” We all have a cognitive bias of overestimating our own qualities/abilities, in relation to the same qualities/abilities of other people. In other words, most people think they are better than average in their personal and professional skill sets.

So what does that have to do with being influential? You may think you are highly influential, but the reality is, there is always room for improvement! Think about the last time you were with a friend. How often did they respond to a text, check their Twitter feed, or answered the phone during your conversation? Or were you the person doing that? Every interruption breaks the connection with the other person, and ultimately says that something is more interesting and engaging than your time with them.

Becoming influential requires a mindset shift, and a commitment to practice in every interaction you have. You can’t be influential at work and then abandon the high level of communication and connection when you are at home.

You’ve heard me discuss the importance of differentiation in the marketplace, and how to create distinction with your services. Those elements are critical, but true influence occurs in all forms of communication. If you want people to remember you, you need to combine your talents and skillset and intentionally connect with purpose. That is the recipe for influence, and you will be remembered long after the interaction has occurred.

If you want to advance your career, and get an edge in your personal and professional life, then investing in the skill of influence can change your life.

Here are five tips to go from dull to dynamic:

1. Mindset.

The point of influence is to build a more authentic connection with someone, not to have power over them. Your effectiveness will skyrocket when you display a thoughtful, adaptable approach rather than one of manipulation and game-playing.

2. Be observant.

How many times have you been interrupted during a conversation with the buzz of a new text message, email, social media notification, phone call, or instant messaging? While social media allows for us to be more connected in real time, it also creates barriers to influence, causing us to feel we are competing with technology. Every interaction is an opportunity for us to demonstrate who we really are, and staying focused on a conversation impacts how others perceive us, so turn off your phone, and really engage with the person you are talking to, free of distraction.

3. Improve your communication skills.

Influence is not a skill you just “pick up” but rather it requires discipline, learning, feedback and practice. Consider investing in a course on behavioral styles; when you understand the other person’s preferred style of communication, you’ll build rapport that fosters trust, connection, and ultimately influence.

Generational dynamics create lots of opportunities for disconnection, as the different age groups default to their own preferred methods to communicate. Your willingness and ability to adapt to these different styles will show your own high level of flexibility and openness, and will help to promote influence and trust with co-workers.

Another common problem area lies in the age-old challenges of male and female communications. Learn effective techniques to communicate with people of each gender.

4. Typos.

Have you received an email or a text from someone who had a line at the end of the message to excuse their typos? It may seem old-fashioned, but misspellings convey sloppiness, and that can damage your credibility. Be professional when sending emails or text messages, because every encounter is an opportunity to exercise your influence.

5. Presentation Skills.

Whether speaking to a group, or one-on-one with a new business lead, your presentation skills are key to demonstrating influence. Many people don’t realize how often they tap a pen, twist a paperclip, fidget, look away from their audience, or display other distracting behaviors while communicating. Your goal is sharing knowledge, but you can’t influence anyone if they aren’t listening because of annoying distractions.

Another element to presentation skills is the quality, tone and volume of your voice. Speaking in a monotone will cause people to look for something more interesting. Fast speech make is difficult to absorb the content, and speaking too softly mitigates your power of the platform. And watch out for those filler words we say without thinking; um, you know, like, etc. Those words can be very distracting, and make you appear to be less credible. One of the best ways to improve your presentation skills is to video your presentation so you can observe your behavior. Although this can be an uncomfortable exercise, watching yourself objectively is a great way to pinpoint things you unconsciously do that is distracting, or where your delivery needs improvement in speed, pitch or volume.

Like any worthwhile endeavor, focus, practice and execution are the key to personal advancement. Advancing your leadership skills requires congruent and authentic influence in both your personal and professional life. Make the choice to aspire to higher influence and be the best leader you can with everyone with whom you interact.

The choice is yours!

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Terri Murphy

Terri Murphy, Communication engagement specialist, author, speaker, consultant, and Master Coach with Workman Success. She is the author of 5 books, TedTalk speaker and co-radio host on KWAMtheVoice.com. Contact: TerriMurphy.com or Email: [email protected]


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