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How to influence people (without being manipulative)

a smiling woman with curly hair knows how to influence people

Did you know you can influence people to do whatever you want?

Influence is one of the most powerful skills you can have in both work and everyday life.

You don’t need to have years of experience in psychology or be in a high-status position. Every person can easily make use of some fundamental techniques to gain influence over others.

But let's be clear: this is more of a superhero’s ability than a supervillain’s. The kind of influence we like is that which makes peoples' lives better.

This isn't about evil manipulation or clever tricks. It's about understanding your personality, adopting a few smart behaviors, and connecting with people better than ever.

So how can you use influence to create a better world for yourself and those around you? Well, it’s much simpler than you might think. Regardless of your personality type, you can change your thinking and that of others. It’s a must-have skill if you want to be an effective leader. Here’s how to use your powers of persuasion and become a role model for everyone you meet.

Table of contents
What does influence mean?
Why is influence such an important skill to master?
Are you a person of influence?
Develop these simple skills to start influencing people
The link between personality type and your ability to influence
How to influence people at work
Different tactics to influence people at work
How to influence people outside of work
Further reading
How to win friends and influence people - starting today

What does influence mean?

According to the dictionary definition, influence is “the power to change or affect someone or something”. Also, “the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen”. The good news is, there is no limit to what you can influence. You can use this skill in both your personal and professional life.

The ability to influence somebody or something to change without using force is a strong sign of an effective leader. Think of those times when a little bit of influence might have swung things in your favour. Those pivotal moments were not failures but missed opportunities. You knew you could have done something but didn’t know what to do.

Why is influence such an important skill to master?

Influence is a key skill to master. It's not something you specifically learn in high school. But when used correctly, you can convince others of your visions and ideas. Through becoming more influential, your interpersonal communication skills get better in tandem. You become somebody people look up to, feel inspired by, and pay attention to you. Influencers respect a person's interests and their point of view.

An influential person in action can bring about life-changing moments for people. They can provide the spark someone needs to make major changes in their life. Imagine being able to have the power to do that. Influencers are the driving force behind our communities, workplaces, and societies.

More than five million people have read Dale Carnegie’s groundbreaking book, “How To Win Friends And Influence People.” Carnegie published the New York Times bestseller back in 1936, but it’s still relevant today. It continues to inspire multiple generations to harness the power of influence in their personal and professional lives.

Are you a person of influence?

By now, you should realize the power of being an influencer. (It’s important to note that we’re not talking about influencers on social media platforms.) An authentic influencer isn't afraid to pick up the baton for a cause and drive it forward. They use their innate human nature to make sure everybody is happy and onboard. Genuine respect for others is a key aspect of this.

Cast your mind back to when you were a child. Who did you look up to? Did you have a favourite teacher or role model? These people were your influencers. They had an honest appreciation of you. When you look back at them, you will probably realize that they had some characteristics that made them this way. Do you have these characteristics as well?

Here are some of the most common characteristics influential people share:

You’re super organized and prepared for every eventuality

Influential people are organized with just about everything. It means they can start every day knowing what they need to do. When ‌unexpected curveballs come flying, they don’t panic; they adapt. As they say, “prior planning prevents poor performance”.

You can’t be influential if you’re a disorganized mess, reacting to whatever comes along - you have to be relied upon to make things right.

You’re a master connector

Are you good at making connections with others? Influencers are. Put them in a room to discuss a project, and they will make sure that everyone in that room knows who they are. It’s not about the glory for them. They only want to involve everybody. They do this by asking questions, getting feedback, and building connections. They’re a node in a network of new relationships, introducing people to each other all the time. People then come to respect and trust them.

You keep going, even during hard times

Errors, problems, bad situations; nothing fazes them. This illuminates the effect of their influence , and you become like a moth to their light. An influencer's modus operandi is to handle problems with ease. They're not always doing all the talking - but they are doing things. They enjoy the challenge of human relations, involving everybody to develop a solution that works for all.

You’re always learning and growing

Influencers are keen learners, always looking to expand their knowledge and awareness. The enthusiasm that emanates from life-long learners is infectious and influences others to improve themselves as well.

You can’t influence people if you’re stuck in your old ways and unwilling to change. Flexibility and adaptation are crucial. (Check out the Fingerprint for Success app to begin your personal development journey.)

Develop these simple skills to start influencing people

Without realizing it, you’re probably already using some form of influence every day. Once you practice and improve these influencing skills, you’ll develop a new way of thinking. You can actively monitor their effect on you and those around you. You can put on your sparkly superhero outfit (with a big “I” on the front) and start working your magic.

Here are some examples of skills you can use to influence people, whatever the situation:

1 - Be a good listener

It’s not just about listening when somebody talks to you. You also need to pick up on things they don’t say, but imply, to understand their point properly. Reflect vocally to them what they said so you can summarize their points. It shows them that you were actively listening, and helps build rapport between the two of you.

2 - Feel confident

Whatever the situation, learn to feel confident in yourself and trust your gut. It can help you weather any storm. So when any conflict or resistance appears, you can feel comfortable that you can handle it. You are not better than the other person; but you are deeply comfortable with yourself. (If you’d like to upgrade your skills in this area, try our Trust Your Gut coaching program - with only a few minutes practice each day, in eight weeks, you’ll be much more confident about your decision-making.)

3 - Influence people by putting yourself in their shoes

If you want to achieve an objective, you can’t force somebody to help you. But you can put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see it from their point of view. Think about the benefits they will get, and how they feel about it, and try to find some common ground. Empathy is the name of the game here.

4 - Timing is everything

You might be ready to tell somebody something important, but it might be the wrong time. Assess situations before you dive in with both feet. If it doesn’t feel like the right time, it probably isn’t. Once again, use your intuition and delay things if you need to.

5 - Adapt when things change

Don’t feel trapped or restricted with decisions and choices that you have made. You have the power in yourself to change how you feel at any given moment. So if situations change, be flexible, go with the flow and be ready to adapt.

6 - Use self-awareness

Try to stay in the moment and be 100% aware of what you are doing. Do you act or think in a certain way that is counter-productive? Learn to monitor your behavior and thought patterns. Always opt for the positive option, and try not to let any negative, limiting thoughts get in the way of your plans. It’s fine to feel down sometimes, and rest when appropriate. But you have to understand the difference between taking a sensible step back to recharge, and indulging in self-pity.

7 - Watch for hidden cues

It’s not just about listening to people. If you take the time to observe them, you can notice non-verbal behavior that you might typically miss. Are they folding their arms when they talk to you? Do they avoid eye contact? Tie this in with your intuition to choose the best option for what they’re really feeling.

8 - Welcome feedback

Give feedback to people, and they will understand what you see and feel inside. Influencers also have an eager desire to listen closely to ‌feedback from others and to own their mistakes. It can help you see your impact; use this knowledge to improve yourself and achieve even better things.

The link between personality type and your ability to influence

You might be wondering what the best way to influence somebody is. Well, what works for you could be entirely different for your best friend, colleague or neighbor. It all boils down to your personality type. When you understand your personality type, you will know how to use your skills effectively. Otherwise, you'll be shooting arrows aimlessly into the wind.

Which personality type are you?

When it comes to personality types, there are many different concepts out there. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator detailed 16 personality types based on the workings of psychiatrist C.G. Jung. However, this older form of assessing personality is becoming less used as many believe the assessment process and analysis of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is flawed.

If you want to figure out how your innate motivations influence your working life, check our 48 motivational traits, and take the free assessment to see which of yours are most dominant.

For example, if you’re high on the need for power and control, your ambition and overt leadership will make others naturally want to follow you.

Or if you tend towards a need for belongingness (what we refer to as ‘affiliation’), you’ll prefer to influence people by building deeper relationships with them. You’ll connect with people first, rather than want to give out instructions and stamp down your authority.

In short: different people have different ways of being influential.

How to influence people at work

Work situations can be challenging at times, but your influence can help you navigate tricky issues. Remember, being influential is not about forcing your co-worker to adopt your point of view. It’s about opening their minds so that you can work together in a better way. You are creating a better working environment for you and your colleagues.

Influential leaders relish the opportunity to listen and learn from their co-workers. It’s about creating a bond with others, accepting them for who they are, and listening to their point of view. You can learn how to win friends and influence people by working on your skills.

At Fingerprint for Success, the Personal Power coaching program helps you hone your influence skills at work so that you can compete at the top in your field or industry. Here are some of the benefits you can gain by using influence in a working environment:

  • You can carry out tasks and achieve goals to succeed in your organisation.
  • Learn how to handle a boss that always seems to be on a different page than you.
  • You can create a healthier working environment that matches your personality.
  • Your influence will open up better work opportunities for you.
  • Feel more present and have greater control over decisions that affect you.
  • Handle different points of view calmly, making your working day less stressful.
  • You can become more assertive and achieve more from your career.

Different tactics to influence people at work

There are various different tactics you can use to influence your colleagues in the workplace. You will need to assess which tactic is best for you. It all depends on your situation and what you ultimately want to achieve. Here are three strategies you can start using now:

1 - Collaborate with your colleagues

Decide on what goals you can work on together. Use a participative leadership style and be open to all your colleagues’ ideas. Don’t forget to utilize any existing alliances in your workplace. Ask yourself: who has the credibility that you’re looking for? Who already supports you? A cooperative approach to accomplishing goals is often more appropriate than giving direct orders.

2 - Use emotional intelligence to influence people at work

It’s a more personal type of influence when you can connect people emotionally to goals, messages, or projects. It makes them feel something inside and will help you get their support. A person’s interests and feelings are the most important thing to them. So you could look at connections between their well-being, how their presence benefits the company; showing sincere appreciation and praise will also help your cause.

3 - Look at it from a logical position

Some of your colleagues will prefer to approach things from a logical point of view. These colleagues are more influenced intellectually. You can take this into account and appeal to their rational minds. Be clear on how your ideas/visions can benefit the organisation. Ensure that you set a clear path ahead, so they can visualize it and get excited.

How to influence people outside of work

It might feel a bit odd talking about influencing people you know, love and care for in your personal life. But you are not looking to exploit people who are close to you. It’s a positive action in your life that enhances your social skills. You can actively create a forward-thinking environment that helps you and those around you. It can make for a win-win situation for everybody.

You don’t have to come across as sly when making friends. You can still be true to yourself. Look upon it as a refinement and extension of your current skills. It will make you sharper and enrich your relationships. Plus you’ll gain some new friends and incredible testimonials along the way as your world starts to open up and your influence expands.

Here are some ways you can easily incorporate it into your daily life:

1 - Be interested in others

Talk the talk, don’t just walk the walk. Show genuine interest in others during your conversation with them, and they will remember you. You will become their number one influencer as you open yourself up to them. Remember a new person's name, interests and what makes them click. People's names are important to them, and they will never forget you!

2 - Commit to your commitments

If you want to have any form of influence over people, you need to follow through on your commitments. Do it when you tell somebody you will do something at a specific time. If it is out of your control, the least you can do is let that person know you can’t fulfill your commitment and why. Just because it is a family member or friend, don’t let them down.

3 - Don’t interrupt somebody when they talk

Active listening is essential, but also make sure you don’t interrupt somebody when they speak. You might be keen to get your point across but give people the space to communicate. You can also repeat their sentences back to them to show that you listen. People will love you for giving them your undivided attention.

4 - Influence people by empowering them

You can probably relate to this in a working environment, but it is also relevant outside work. It's a good idea to empower others as often as you can. If you are in a packed room of people, it can be challenging for some people to make themselves heard. So introduce them and can give them the opportunity to speak to everybody. They’ll never forget your influence and might even become friends for life!

5 - Remember your mind-body connection

Health is wealth, and nobody will feel influenced by someone looking bedraggled or worn down. Put time aside every day, even if it is only 30 minutes. Do something healthy for your mind and body. Disconnect by reading a book, go for a walk to reset yourself, or go somewhere quiet and meditate. You can come back refreshed with a balanced approach.

Further reading

Influence is a vast subject, and you certainly can’t go wrong by soaking up the best information about influence in Carnegie’s book. “Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini is also an invaluable resource for anybody interested in understanding the psychology behind it all. Finally, “Becoming A Person Of Influence” by John C. Maxwell is also recommended reading for this subject.

How to win friends and influence people - starting today

Influence is a powerful skill that you can use in your personal and professional life. You can use the methods above and start creating a brand new world for yourself. Influencing people is not a shady endeavour; it is an awakening, and you can do it in a friendly, honorable way.

Plus, any success you gain using influence doesn’t stop there. You can keep moving on to bigger goals in your personal and professional life. You can be your genuine self, improve your life and help others become better versions of themselves. Now go out there and make a dent in the universe!

Become a masterful influencer by taking our free Personal Power coaching program.

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