In last week’s post I started writing about how to become a person of influence. We are all already influencing up to 80,000 people over the course of an average lifetime. This is about being more than average. Not necessarily in the numbers (although that, too), but in the intent. I started a list of 10 things you can do to intentionally increase your influence. The first three areas of focus were to have Integrity, to Nurture people, and to have Faith in people. This week I have three more.
We’ve been endowed with two ears and on mouth. How often do you find people using those in reverse proportion? What might happen to relationships of all kinds, personal, professional, etc. if we listened twice as much as we talked? Christian Philosopher, Paul Tillich said, “The first duty of love is to listen.”
I have a series on listening in this blog called “The Superpower You Didn’t Know you Have.” Click here to see the first post and then you can scroll down. Or click here to view a list of posts under that category.
In his book Becoming a Person of Influence, Author and renown leadership trainer, John Maxwell, Writes about what he calls the “4 H questions to become a good listener.” I like these:
- What is their Heart?
- What is their Hope?
- What is their Hurt?
- How can I Help?
You have to ask questions and listen to discover a person’s heart, hope, hurt, and opportunity to be helped. When you do, I guarantee the person will feel heard. When we feel heard, we’re more open to the one who heard us. That’s influence.
This one can be tricky. But it’s a huge opportunity if we get it right. It takes time to understand people. The tricky thing about understanding is that we make snap judgments about someone when we first meet them. You’ve heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” That’s true. Some research shows we form an almost indelible first impression within a tenth of a second of meeting a person.
It’s a good thing those first impressions are not always right. Over thirty years ago, our oldest son needed to have a tumor removed from his brain. It was serious enough that the hospital where he was diagnosed wouldn’t perform the surgery. We were referred to Children’s Memorial in Chicago. The night before the surgery, his Brain Surgeon came into the hospital room to meet us and discuss the surgery. Right when he walked into the room he set his notebook down on the over bed table and knocked Josh’s water onto the floor. Not a good look for the guy who will be tinkering inside your 20 month old’s brain the next morning! Fortunately, he was an incredibly skilled surgeon. The surgery was successful and our son is now in his early thirties.
To really understand someone, you need to know a lot about them. In addition to the 4 H questions above, take time to find out about what they’re great at, what they cry about, sing about and dream about, and who have been the key influencers in their life so far.
I once had a job where I joked that my job description was “Coffee, Cookies, and Conversation.” I did spend a great deal of time getting to know and understand as many of the people I worked with as possible. My job was to help them thrive in a cross-cultural work environment. Understanding people is critical to positively influencing people.
To Enlarge is to make bigger. Another word for that is to Grow. One of the key intrinsic motivators for most people is called “Mastery.” People generally want to get better at things. You can see that, for example, in the person who practices playing an instrument they will never use professionally. They enjoy playing and just want to get better. If you help people grow, learn things, develop skills, improve the skills they have, you’ll be helping them get what they want and that’s influence. Zig Zigler is famous for saying, “You’ll always have everything in life that you want IF you help enough people get what they want.” Helping people grow, then, is a classic win/win.
We’ve covered 6 of the 10 ways to increase your influence. Next week we’ll finish up the list. Leave a comment about how you’re increasing your influence.