How to Influence

Three Parts:Building Strong CharacterInfluencing OthersGaining Influence

We all want to be surrounded by strong, inspirational, and influential role models in our lives. Do you want to be one of those people? You can learn to develop your character, your interpersonal skills, and your level of esteem to command the respect and the attention of others. Start influencing people.

Part 1
Building Strong Character

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    Be positive. If you want to be an influential person, you'll quickly learn that positivity will work more than negativity. People gravitate toward people and are willing to be influenced by people who are positive and nurturing, not harsh and criticizing.[1]
    • If you're going to criticize someone's work or offer suggestions or alternatives, start by praising something. Instead of launching into a critique, say, "That's a great thought, but what if we tried it a little differently…"
    • Avoid conversation topics that involve complaining and criticizing. Talk about things you like, not things that bug you. People will be more attracted to spending time with someone who wants to have fun and talk about positive things.
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    Know your strengths. Influential people are those who know how to play to their own strengths. What is something that you do well? What do you do better than most people? Recognizing and emphasizing your strengths in your personal interactions is a great way of influencing others.
    • If you're a harsh critic of yourself, listen to what others say. What are you often praised for doing? What earns you high marks in the eyes of others?
    • Try to write down a list of your achievements and attribute each of them to something that you think you do well. This can be an excellent and easy way of identifying your major strengths.
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    Practice your public speaking skills. If you can't speak up for yourself and communicate in a concise manner, it'll be hard to be influential. Influential people learn to voice their opinions and their ideas in concise language. You need to be convincing.
    • Speak clearly and loudly when you speak to command attention. Don't talk over people, but make sure you can be heard. It's hard to influence anyone while you're mumbling.
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    Be an expert in your field. If you want to influence others, you've got to do it with more than your good word and your ability to manipulate people. You've got to have the skills and the expertise to back up your words. You've got to walk the walk and talk the talk, which will allow you to be more assertive in your influence.
    • If you want to influence your friends, coworkers, or family members, spend extra time studying and researching the things you're talking about and the things that you're doing, from your job to your hobbies. Stay informed and ahead of the curve, then put that knowledge into practice.[2]
    • Go "above and beyond." Be the first to get to the office and the last to leave. Put in extra hours on the home front and let your actions speak for themselves. Make an effort to be the best at everything you do. Even if you're not, the effort will be influential.
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    Be charismatic. Charisma goes a long way in influence. It's hard to know exactly how to cultivate something that's hard to define, but a lot of it has to do with staying at ease in your own skin. Charisma is confidence. So, to influence others, stay relaxed, confident that you're correct in what you say, that you're who you are, and that what you say matters.
    • Make the mundane interesting. The head of Google's Spam division has hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers not because Spam is an inherently fascinating topic, it's because he tweets about the topic hilariously.[3]
    • Being charismatic doesn't need to be any more complicated than knowing when to button up. Cultivate a little mystery in your life by staying out of a conversation, rather than contributing as you might normally and you might be surprised at how people will conversely become more curious in your thoughts. Influence in silence.
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    Be believable. It's easier to influence others if your arguments are believable, well-organized, and convincing. From the way you carry yourself to the way you to the way you speak, cultivate a believable persona.
    • Know when to let something drop. Influential people also know when to admit that they're wrong and drop an idea or an argument that's not working. Being influential doesn't mean being right all the time, or convincing others that something you say is correct when it isn't.
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    Inspire. An inspiring person builds confidence and trust in others, influencing their decisions by spreading trust around. You don't need to be the smartest, the best, or the loudest, you just have to make other people feel as if they're benefiting from being around you. Easier said than done, but being inspirational is often the sum of many other abilities that will make you influential. Stay positive and speak well and you'll inspire.

Part 2
Influencing Others

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    Identify the people you need to influence the most. If you want to expand your influence, it's important to spend time focusing on the people who matter the most. Whether you're in a position of authority or you're low on the totem pole, pick out the people who'll be able to help you make a difference, or the people who'll be the most likely to go along with you and your ideas.
    • Don't waste time and energy on people who don't matter. It's not your job to influence every single person in your life. If your coworker has no authority over you, won't collaborate, and irritates you, ignore them.
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    Be honest. Truth-telling and influence go hand-in-hand. Make it your goal to be as honest as possible with people you want to influence. If you don't like an idea your employee brings you, be honest and say so as kindly as possible. Don't withhold uncomfortable truths, make it your goal to stay truthful and people will respect you.
    • Bluntness can be a turnoff in some cases, or it can be refreshing and influential. Still, it's important to exercise tact and pay close attention to the fine line between hurting someone's feelings and being honest.[4]
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    Establish conversational rapport. When you're interacting with people one-on-one, practice building rapport with people and instilling trust and confidence. Good conversational skills are more than just saying the right thing. To build rapport, make sure you:
    • Maintain personal space and distance
    • Look others in the eye
    • Breathe slowly and maintain an even tone of voice
    • Match your diction to others
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    Anticipate the expectations of others. If you've guessed what someone's going to say before they say it, you'll be able to influence much easier. Work on organizing your thoughts and thinking about what you have to say ahead of time, so you don't have to think and speak on the fly. Anticipate other peoples' reactions and responses to think of what you're going to say before you say it.
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    Be willing to collaborate. Negotiation and arbitration is a very important part of being influential. Working together to build the best possible ideas helps to give others the sense that you're willing to listen. Make sure that you take multiple perspectives into consideration and let others contribute. Make it a team effort.
    • Let other people come up with your ideas. If you're convinced that you've got the right answer, lead others through your thinking, but don't come up with a solution yet. When someone else sees where it's going, praise their great idea, even if it was yours.

Part 3
Gaining Influence

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    Remember people’s names. Little things matter. There's nothing that ingratiates someone less than forgetting someone's name, then brushing it off with a "Oh, sorry I'm terrible with names." Don't be that person. Be the person who only needs to hear it once, then talks to everyone, from the mailman to the CEO as if you've known them for years.
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    Listen actively when others talk. Look people in the eye, nod your head when you agree, and focus on conversations that you're having. Engage and listen closely and you'll be much more collaborative and influential in your conversations. Other people will be more likely to tell you the truth and open up if you're a good listener.
    • Don't just give the appearance of listening closely, actually listen closely. We've all had bosses who nod along but couldn't summarize what you just said if they had to. Don't be like that. Really listen closely and think about what someone is saying. Don't just wait for your turn to speak.
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    Appeal to others’ sense of creativity. People like to feel unique, as if they have good ideas that are respected by other people. If you want to influence someone, don't do it by appealing to their sense of duty, or their sense of greed, or their sense of competition–appeal to their creative side. Give them the opportunity to form new ideas and creative ways of thinking and give them the opportunity to indulge those ideas.
    • Praise creative concepts, even if they don't pan out. If you have a friend who had a radical new idea about a small business that turns out to fail, praise their gumption. Celebrate little failures.
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    Ask for what you want. If you want to influence others, lead them in the direction you want them to go. if your boss has the ability to grand you a raise that you want, tell your boss you want a raise at the appropriate time. There's no sense in beating around the bush. Cut to the chase and speak from the heart. If your reasons are sound and your influence is strong, you should have a stronger chance of getting what you want. You'll never know if you don't ask.


  • Establish what you are trying to achieve. Make a clear plan of what you want.
  • People are in one of three categories of mindsets: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. There are cues which can clue you in. Visual people will say something like "Have you seen the news lately" while an auditory person might say "Have you heard the news lately." A kinesthetic person would say "I feel that…" when discussing emotions. These clues can tell you how to talk to different people in an influential way.
  • Try using the language patterns of the Milton Model. The two main categories of language patterns are: cause and effect and presuppositions.
  • Research selling anything to anyone. If you want somebody to choose, for example, an envelope, you can make it more appealing by pushing it towards them while they look on, making them think they have chosen it.
  • You can also leave a gap and slightly talk louder when calling out the number of the envelope you want them to choose.
  • When wanting somebody to agree with you, nod your head. They won't notice, but their subconscious will.

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Categories: Leadership and Mentoring