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24 Important Tips On How To Exert Influence Over Others

24 Important Tips On How To Exert Influence Over Others

Building influence is a challenging and worthwhile goal. More influence means that you can obtain followers, win promotions at work, have more friends, and have more opportunities in general. A recently published infographic based on Robert Greene’s book The 48 Laws of Power gives us further insight on building influence.

1. Win with your actions, not arguments

We have all heard the expression “actions speaker louder than words.” However, this tip points out that a focus on action leads us to wins faster than focusing on speaking or writing. For example, if you are often mocked for being late to meetings, commit to arrive five minutes early for the next 10 meetings you attend, rather than giving excuses for your lateness.

2. Keep your hands clean of nasty deeds

Breaking the rules has a way of coming back to you. In our daily work, it is easy to take shortcuts to achieve results faster — for example, rushing through paper work to complete a sale. Instead, take the time to win the honest way.

3. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd

Personal branding and elevator pitches are all about making yourself memorable. These methods are widely taught because they make a huge difference when it comes to being remembered. There are two ways to become more memorable: build up expertise in a valuable skill and take a deep interest in other people.

4. Never outshine the master

When you are excellent at what you do, it is natural to seek admiration and advancement. However, there is a time and place for that activity. In the workplace, your boss has great influence over your prospects. Keep that in mind when you reference your accomplishments.

5. Always say less than necessary

In our always-on Internet culture, we have been conditioned to speak and share all the time. Constantly speaking raises two threats. First, you will have less energy to observe and listen to other people. Second, you are likely to run out of good ideas and start mentioning low-value concepts.

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In your next work meeting, focus on making a few valuable contributions, rather than out-talking everyone else.

6. Work as a spy

What is the greatest contribution that spies make? They collect valuable information and listen carefully. When you are around senior management or other influential people, be sure to observe them. How do they speak about the organization? What problems are they working to solve? Paying close attention to these points allows you to better communicate with them.

7. Learn to withdraw

From time to time, it is wise to withdraw. In Greene’s research, the purpose of withdrawing is to help people to recognize your value. Even if you are highly dedicated to success, taking a break from the arena is important. It gives you a chance to rest and seek new ideas. Even more important, many successful people — including Winston Churchill and Steve Jobs — have withdrawn for a time to overcome defeats.

Tip: How To Find Time For Yourself

8. Give people options that work in your favor

This recommendation takes thought and wisdom to apply. First, you have to be creative enough to develop several options. Many people make the mistake of simply presenting one option, take it or leave it. Secondly, you must look for a way that you can make a contribution in each project and focus on that.

9. Transform weakness into power

Think about your weaknesses in new ways. Instead of ignoring a weakness, take the time to get to know yourself better. For example, if you struggle with staying organized, learn the Weekly Review. Self knowledge is important to acquire. Otherwise, you risk falling victim to a blindspot and making the same mistake over and over again.

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10. Act like a king to be treated like one

How confident are you in your daily work? A robust sense of self confidence helps you to make an impression and move ahead. Improving your confidence starts with your language. Remove qualifiers from your speech. Make more statements and ask fewer questions. These tips will get you started on the path to being treated like a king.

11. Always be bold

For this insight, Greene reminds us of the rewards for taking risks. In romance, this could mean asking for dates even if you feel nervous. In the business world, being told means asking for the sale with a potential customer. Sales expert and trainer Zig Ziglar commented, “Timid salesmen have skinny kids.” The determination to do something challenging and uncomfortable will land you in the spotlight.

12. Master the art of good timing

Timing is a powerful skill that is well worth developing. With poor timing, your ideas and needs will be ignored, mocked, or worse. Good timing in business means knowing when to challenge your boss (and when to stay quiet). Not every battle is worth the challenge. If you struggle with timing, here is one way to get started: pause for 10 seconds before speaking when a thought occurs to you. That pause will give you a moment to decide if this is the right time and place to share.

13. Make sure not to offend the wrong person

Offending someone causes many problems for your career and the rest of your life. If you have caused a major offence, you may not be able to get that person’s attention again. If you are feeling angry, pause before you send an email or make a phone call. There’s nothing wrong with having strong feelings, but it does matter how you act on them.

14. Don’t fully commit to any side

In the investment world, we understand the value of diversification — holding numerous investments to manage risk. This principle also applies in a career context. While you may love working for your current company, realize that layoffs and other events can happen suddenly. Even worse, an unethical or abusive person may be promoted to management. In these cases, your best option is to leave the organization — commit to having several options.

15. Avoid the unhappy and the unlucky

The company you keep makes a big difference in your life. That’s why people spend money and time to attend conferences and join associations. The first step in putting this tip into action is to reduce the amount of time you spend with negative people. When you spend more time around happy and lucky people, you will be encouraged and learn about interesting opportunities.

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16. Pay attention and work on the hearts and minds of others

Most of us have heard about the value of emotional intelligence. It’s a vital principle. While reason and logic play a role in influence, this tip reminds us that most decision-making is emotional. That means you have to learn how to listen and make an effort to build relationships. If you are seeking a promotion, take the time to learn about the managers who make promotion decisions. They may emphasize different results and values than you think (for example, the ability to develop staff and achieve results).

17. Make other people come to you

Becoming a “go-to person” is a great way to develop your influence. You may become known as the person who is able to influence upset customers. That’s a valuable skill in sales, customer service, and many other jobs. By building a reputation for great results, you will make people come to you for help.

18. Follow your own path and don’t get lost in someone else’s shadow

In the long term, it is more exciting to work on your own goals. In the short term, there is nothing wrong with studying with a master — that’s a key concept from Greene’s book Mastery. After a few months or a year, reassess the situation and decide whether it’s time to move on to a new job.

19. Plan ahead so you’re not overwhelmed by potential consequences

Planning is the quiet method that many successful people use to get ahead. Building the Weekly Review habit is an excellent way to prevent painful surprises — no more failing to prepare for important meetings with customers or your boss. In addition, you can use planning to reduce risk. This can mean purchasing insurance to cope with the risk of theft or loss in your business.

20. Never appear to be too perfect

Striving for great results is well worth the effort. In contrast, there’s not much point in going for perfect for two reasons. First, you will avoid taking chances and miss out on opportunities to grow if you focus solely on perfection. Second, your coworkers and friends will find it difficult to relate to you if you always come across as perfect.

To go deeper on this tip, watch “The power of vulnerability,” an outstanding TED talk by Brené Brown.

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21. Always pay the full price instead of cutting corners

Success often involves long hours of grinding work. There’s just no way around it in some cases. The very best musicians often play scales and other exercises each and every day. In the workplace, making a single sale is good, yet it is only the start. You will start to achieve influence after you make dozens of sales per month and find yourself winning awards.

22. Make sure your accomplishments seem effortless

Are you still talking about how busy you are each day? Few people are impressed by effort alone. Instead, apply yourself to your work and avoid seeking constant validation from others on social media. Just think about Olympic-level athletes — we’re interested in seeing their top skills in action, not hundreds of practice sessions.

23. Create compelling spectacles

Delivering the goods at work matters, but it is not enough to win influence, fame, and money. Sometimes, there’s a need for spectacles. For example, when you have your annual salary review with your boss, prepare an impressive document for the meeting. Your presentation may include letters or emails from important customers and well-designed charts demonstrating your results.

24. Incorporate dramatic devices into your public actions

Public-speaking skills allow you to share your message and stand apart from everyone else at work. When you give a presentation, make use of dramatic devices such as repeating your points (a classic tip from Winston Churchill), using visual aids (this is how Steve Jobs presented new Apple products), and using humor. Learning these skills takes practice. You can get started this week by joining ToastMasters.

Featured photo credit: Robert Greene/Robert Greene via 48lawsofpower.powerseductionandwar.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

“Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

Creativity also emphasizes values.

“The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

1. Cultivate Focus

In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

How to cultivate focus?

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Take a 20 Minute Walk

Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

2. Build a Structure

When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

How to build a structure?

Create a Morning Routine

Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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3. Find Motivation

There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

How to find motivation?

Connect to Your “Why”

Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

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So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

How to become an expert?

Make a Mastery Training Plan

Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

3. Review your progress

Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

5. Create a Conducive Environment

A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

“a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

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I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

How to create a conducive environment?

Add or Subtract Stimuli

Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

The Bottom Line

Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

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Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

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