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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Influence People and Make Them Feel Good

How to Influence People and Make Them Feel Good

Most discussions on how to influence people eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction: building strong relationships for positive influence.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams not through brute force, but through careful appeals to their sensibilities.

Using these tactics, they can use positive influence others to guide others towards excellence, productivity, and success, impacting the world one person at a time.

Carnegie’s book is great, but there are other resources, too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is that learning how to influence people is about centering on the humanity of others.

Chances are you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars and having positive impacts. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

Here are some tips on how to influence people in a positive way.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, you need to be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique in order to start making a positive impact on others.

Discover your unique take on an issue, and then live up to and honor that. One of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctively appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

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Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and, thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positive influence on others.

If you’re not sure how to discover your own sense of authenticity, you can try Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment. It can help you identify the areas where your life may be falling short and causing you to feel inauthentic.

2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I was a good listener, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s point of view, character, desires, and needs.

To learn how to influence people, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported, and seen. If a person feels they are invisible and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening and being genuinely interested in them meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance, which builds positive energy.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area where you want to motivate others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. However, it is unwise to argue over facts, and experts come with facts.

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4. Lead With a Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials, and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and well-told story can be.

If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail.

A story told in the right way can be the perfect way to grab hold of someone’s emotions, which can help you as you learn how to influence people positively.

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who give their all day in and day out.

Case in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6th all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double, becoming the first woman to do so. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention, and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to use positive influence is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates, and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions. Show them you are interested in other people’s success, as this will positively impact all of the personal and professional relationships you set out to create. Making an impact on someone’s life is as easy as offering a compliment. 

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7. Be Effusive With Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “to do” list; they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are. This is key when learning how to influence people.

This inevitably has a positive influence on those around you. Remember that a person who feels appreciated will be more willing to go above and beyond with anything you request of them.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego.

However, in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people and arouse resentment in others. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to dealing with people via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset, but your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat, and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted, and if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional, and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional, and cooperative needs[1].

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Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to learn how to influence people, operate from your sphere of influence, your place of expertise, and leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack-of-all-trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot use positive influence on others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to influence people is about centering your humanity. If you want to utilize positive influence, focus on the way you communicate, and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself. Get comfortable with your uniqueness first, and then get out there and influence others.

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More Tips on Influence

Featured photo credit: Evangeline Shaw via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Center for Creative Leadership: Influencing: Learn How to Use the Skill of Persuasion

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Jennifer R. Farmer

An author and trainer specializes in helping socially-conscious entrepreneurs, celebrities and activists

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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