Hey there, Dean here. I run content and SEO at AppSumo. Here, I write and share about productivity, leadership, money, psychology, marketing, and more.
Influence is an excellent toolkit for influencing skills and effective professional communication. It covers many ideas, sciences, and techniques of speaking persuasively and compellingly. Besides, the three biggest takeaways I love the most from this book are – how to effectively influence any personality you encounter; how to properly listen, understand, and ask the right questions; finally, how to expertly handle high-pressure situations and challenging people.
Being able to positively influence others is one of the most important skills for success in our personal and professional lives.
If building confidence is about having a better sense of our self in the world, influence is about having a bigger impact on the world.
The skills of influence are built on finding the balance between heart and head, between using our intellect and using our emotional intelligence, between knowing when to push through and knowing when to yield to others.
To influence others we need to stand up and be heard, but we also need to sit still and listen deeply to what others have to say.
Our fight-flight response is the most primitive and powerful emotional trigger we can experience and overrides rational thinking every time.
Emotions act as the brain’s shortcut to guide our approach and avoidance behavior.
Most of us like to believe that we make decisions based on our ability to weigh up logic and fact, however, ultimately, we are predominantly influenced by emotion.
If we want to influence others, we need to appeal to their emotions because it’s the first and most motivational system in our evolutionary drive to survive.
We each have our own personal mental shortcuts to filter information, direct our attention and help us make decisions. These are called meta-programmes because they are unconscious cognitive habits that influence how we communicate and what motivates us.
See the world from the other person’s perspective.
Some people are more motivated by what they want to move toward and some from what they want to move away from.
Some people like to be communicated with by being presented with the ‘big picture’ and some need to see the ‘detail’ in order to make a decision.
Some people are very independent in their decision-making and rarely ask for other people’s input or advice. Others, however, seek feedback, input, and advice and will often need to get the opinion of others before making a decision.
Some people like to be presented with options before making a decision while others want to see a step-by-step process that leads to a particular outcome.
Some people focus much on the task at hand while others focus on the relationship between people.
Understand different communication style, relationship values and decision-making strategies to make your influence more effective.
The first place to start when we think about preparing to influence others is getting a deeper understanding of their personal preferences and motivators, and then understand how our own emotions affect and influence others.
Emotions are contagious. And the mirror neuron system allows us to resonate emotionally with others and affects every interaction we have.
Use the STAR model to help you build your emotional awareness, emotional resilience and move back into positive emotions so you can positively influence others: aware of the switch of emotions, consciously process them with thoughts and self-talk, assess and analyze what it really means, and finally, resolve and reset your emotional state.
If you become a master at the other influencing skills but fail to build your skill as a listener, the other skills will be largely wasted. You may come across as someone who has knowledge, who’s confident and good communicator, but you won’t have true influence.
Listening is a radical act in a world that loves to talk.
Listening is the foundation upon which every other skill depends on. Because if you don’t really listen, you’re likely to miss the important information from your team, your employees, your colleagues, and your friends.
There is a big difference between hearing and listening. Listening requires focused attention.
While it’s important to listen to others, we also need to pay attention to what’s happening for us on the inside. Listening to our own internal voice, our automatic responses and our emotional reactions can help us develop our own emotional self-awareness.
What are some practical ways to make listening a positive habit of influence in your life and business? Simple – ask great questions then sit back and listen to the answers.
Language and vocabulary can unconsciously affect the decisions we make in everyday life.
Remember that my cat is not your cat – once we understand more about how our minds process the same language in different ways, we can use language that directs the mind of the other person to where we actually want it to go.
Avoid using jargon and abstract language if you want to connect with your audience and include everyone in the conversation.
Converting complex information into easily digestible and tasty nuggets flavored with emotion and color will make it memorable.
When we want to influence others to support us, we need to use open and honest communication and acknowledge who is taking decisions.
Metaphorical language turns complex information into a brain-friendly format so we can map over knowledge from something we have prior experience of, to something that is new and different.
Across every culture in every part of the world, humans have told stories to understand, share and recall knowledge.
One of the brain’s unique design features is its ability to recognize patterns so that we can quickly predict what is most likely to happen next. Over the centuries, we have used narrative story structure as the most elegant way to communicate our message, our passion, our vision and who we are.
Share your passion by telling a passionate story. Talk about real people, in real situations, facing real challenges to emotionally engage with the audience.
Great stories activate multi-sensory networks – sights, sounds, texture, color, and emotion – to prime a detailed internal representation in the minds of the audience. This makes them easy to recall by simplifying the complexity.
Summaries your story into a single compelling idea to reveal the emotional heart of your message.
In meetings, attend to the emotional needs of participants. People thrive when they feel needed, consulted and respected.
In presentations, make eye contact with your audience to help you relax and build rapport. Besides, effectively use the stage, room, and space to reinforce your message.
On the phone, use your voice as a tool to convey emotion, understanding, and empathy. Pay the same degree of attention as you would if you were sitting opposite the person.
When dealing with difficult people, unpack the word and get really clear about what specifically you find difficult. Is it their tone of voice? Is it what they are doing? Once we label someone as difficult, we can begin to ‘fix’ them in our mind and it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, start by working out the specific behaviors you find challenging. This helps to separate out the positive behaviors from the ones you find difficult.
Stand back and become an observer to avoid being drawn into a negative emotional spiral.
When facing differences in opinion, stand up for you but not against the other person.
Always keep an open mind and open heart, create neutral space to calm emotions while maintaining a connection with the other person.