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10 Ways to Positively Influence Others In The Workplace

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10 Ways to Positively Influence Others In The Workplace

No matter how brilliant or hard-working we are, we cannot succeed without the help and cooperation from others. Men are not islands scattered in a sea of separation, we are all connected in some way. In the 21st Century the world has shrunk significantly as we keep pace with the most remote parts of the world and we learn from other cultures with a click of a button. We have discovered we are not so different after all, language might be a barrier but we all have the same basic needs, the same can be said about the strangers we meet on the street or people we work with.

Regardless of where you work or your occupation, we all have something in common; we spend a large part of our lives in a job that some of us like and some of us don’t.

If you find yourself in a job you don’t like, by getting people on your side will make the journey more bearable, and you will even begin to enjoy going to work.

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Here are my 10 Ways to Positively Influence Others in the Workplace:

Develop a Grateful Attitude

I have a ritual every morning before I go out the door; I look around my home and quietly say “thank you” for having a roof over my head, for the food we eat and having a family to love. By appreciating what I already have my purpose becomes clearer, to bring the bacon (or tofu if you are vegetarian) and feed the ones I love. During the day as the challenges arise, I think of my daily ritual and makes me happy, happiness is contagious.

Happiness is contagious

There are a million+1 reasons to be sad or angry in the world, however, there are ten billion+1 reasons to be happy, we were not put on this earth plane to be miserable, find a reason to rejoice, look at the window and see the blue sky, if it is raining be happy that more trees and vegetables will grow. Talk to the people who nurture you and smile at the ones who don’t. If you are alive and healthy you are doing well….

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Smile even when you are down

Have you ever heard the expression “Fake it until you make it”? The same principle applies when things go wrong, smile and it will put you in a better mood. Even when the boss is harassing you, co-workers not going along with the program, the computer crashed wiping all your hard work, simply smile. By smiling we release endorphins (happy hormones) and smiling has a tendency to ease bodily tension, so flash those pearly whites, people around you will pick up on it and they will smile in return.

Always say Please and Thank You

Good manners are a passport to better relationships, and this is not just relegated to the workplace; even when you go out to restaurants, the movies, etc. people will go out of their way to assist you and make your experience more enjoyable when they are treated with courtesy and respect. Having good manners shows the world we care about others, you don’t have to go to Harvard to learn good manners; they can easily become a habit when we learn to treat others the way we want to be treated.

Stay away from gossip

Sometimes things happen in the work place that gives some people a reason to speak about others behind their back. Discussing events is inevitable however, these events are often distorted for entertainment purposes and objectivity is lost. Gossip de-moralizes the target person and if it is malicious can become bullying. What I suggest is simple, smile at the people involved in gossip and walk away avoiding engagement, do not be drawn by the negative energy, it will keep you centered and will not distort your opinion of the victim, they deserve our respect regardless.

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Be kind to the Village Idiot

No matter how many different places I have worked at there is always a “Village Idiot”. These people might be eccentric, not articulate, weird or just different. When engaged in conversation by the V.I. be kind and listen to what he or she is saying, you will be surprised there is an unconventional wisdom to them, and by bothering to listen to them you will develop a good will. You never know when you might need their help.

Be diplomatic

People will say or do things that irritate us, and the key is to remain calm and objective. Having a short fuse or simply choosing anger as a first reaction will give these people more fuel to annoy you again and again; and you will lose credibility in front of your peers. There have been many times people have said hurtful or offensive things to me and by me not giving them an answer to respond to their poor rhetoric I have managed to stay in control of the situation and they have left me alone as they know I will not justify to their poor attitudes and I do it with a smile or with humor often turning the tables. If you must respond when confronted or teased do it in a soft and calm voice and be kind, no point on putting out a fire with gasoline.

Always do your best

Bosses and influential co-workers will respect you for doing the best you can when doing your job. I have seen many people who have been at odds in the past come together to celebrate when a milestone has been achieved due a great effort. People might not like you for whatever reason, but they will respect you for being dependable and a great worker. Being dedicated and focused is a quality that is cherished in the corporate world. By always doing your best gives you a positive sense of self and purpose; chances are it will bring in a pay rise or build a solid foundation for a future role.

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Be honest

Honesty is the best policy, however, when honestly and diplomacy are combined they become traits of a great leader/communicator. When communicating concepts and ideas be factual, do not try to sound overly smart or use too much technical jargon. Do not embellish or exaggerate as people can see through the lies and will retain that in their minds forming opinions based on how the massage is conveyed not the message itself.

Be respectful of other cultures

If you live in a Western country chances are there are many people of different cultures and ethnicities. By getting to know other people’s traditions, foods and beliefs we develop a respect and appreciation for who they are. Every culture has something positive we can learn from and it is our moral duty to embrace then and respect them. Do not join racist conversations in the staff room or around the water cooler, you are inviting the same treatment from others and it does not help you to positively influence others, even the very people you are agreeing with will lose some respect for you. There are good people and bad people in every nationality, focus on what is good and decent in everyone; it will become a beacon attracting cooperation across the board.

We are going to spend eight hours a day, five days a week, 48 to 50 weeks a year with our colleagues, might as well make it enjoyable and fruitful.

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More by this author

Louis Salguero

UX, HCD, UCD, GUI, graphic and web designer

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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