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21st Nov 2017

3 Simple Ways to Increase Your Influence

Sinead Sharkey

It’s that time of the week again and we’ve another fantastic blog from Sinead Sharkey of Generation Women, this week she shares with us how to stand out in your career.

How to Get Big results, With Minimal Effort

I love working with people on their ability to influence, it’s such an easy area to make big improvements with very little effort.  When we have more influence at work, we get more done, are happier, and are more successful!  This is one of the many areas that coaching is great for getting results, because often we’re unaware of the language we use, our body language, and other ways we may be giving away our power.  Being able to work with someone one to one, or in a group, where I can observe and give feedback, and find specific solutions to fit their needs is hugely valuable.  I’ve watched people go from wallflower to sunflower in a very short time.

We want to influence to have our ideas taken on board, to feel we’re having impact, for people to take us seriously, to be respected.

So, first we go back to basics…

Rapport

You won’t get very far trying to influence without rapport.  How do you build it?  Start by being present.  What I mean by that, is when you give someone your undivided attention, you’re right there in the moment, then you will build rapport easily.  We are all so distracted these days that we can forget to just be there with someone.  Make eye contact, relax, and enjoy being in someone else’s company.  Do you want to know the quickest way to build rapport?  Imagine how it feels when you’re with a close friend.  That relaxed and easy way you have.  When you tap into that feeling before you meet someone new, then you will give off a positive aura that the person will respond to.

How do you know when you’re in rapport with someone?

It’s easy to see.  People in rapport look comfortable in each other’s company.  They will mirror each other in lots of ways, the way they are sitting, facial expressions, gestures, even breathing!  You can feel it easily too.  That sense of ease you have with someone.  When it’s not there, everything is clunky and awkward.  Nobody will be influenced by someone they feel awkward around.

Listening

A great tool for building rapport and influence is to listen!  

Firstly, people love to feel listened to, and it’s such a rare thing these days.  Listening makes a person feel valued, respected, interesting…doesn’t that sound like a set of traits you would love to have associated with you.  And it’s a set of traits that build rapport, trust, and influence.

Give your full attention.  Be interested.  Listen to understand, not to answer!  When you’re thinking of the response, you aren’t hearing what the other person is saying.  When you jump in to share ‘that happened to me and here’s what I did’, you aren’t hearing.  When you listen with the intent to hear, to understand, to be there for the person, then you really hear.  

Secondly, listening is important because of what you learn.  When you listen, you will hear peoples likes and dislikes, what works and what doesn’t, what they care about.  They use certain language.  They tell you all you need to know to influence them.  When you listen you hear how a person thinks.  Doesn’t that sound like vital information to help in your ability to influence?!  So pay attention, and as Stephen Covey said ‘seek first to understand, then be understood.’

Asking great questions

Great questions open people up, which gives you plenty to listen to and helps build rapport.  They show interest in the other person, that you value their perspective.  When you know the right questions to ask, you’ll reveal what’s important to someone, and that is their hot button for influencing.  Whatever your role, but especially as a manager, this is a fundamental strategy to buying people into a task or change.  Here are a few pointers to get it right…

• Keep them open (what/ how/where/ who/ when)
• Be careful of asking why – as it can make people feel defensive
• Ask one question at a time – people often pile them up which is just confusing and annoying. You’ll only get one answered anyway.
• Use silence – it’s no good asking and then answering your own question.
• Some handy questions to have in your pocket…
• What are your thoughts on…?
• How might you go about…?
• What is important to you about…? (insert job/ project/ task etc.)
• Why is that important to you? (the why question you can use)
• What would … give or get you?
• What do you think might not work? (finding out objections is useful so you can manage them)

When you put these 3 tactics together you’ll be influencing with ease.

Sinead is the Founder of Generation Women, and is a Career and Leadership Coach. She has almost 20 years’ experience of developing leaders in global corporates. Her passion for helping women excel in their careers has resulted in her clients landing the jobs they want, being head hunted, and stepping up into leadership with confidence.

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