When I was in the ninth grade, I picked up this book from my dad’s office library. The title read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I was super excited!
I had always dreamt of being one of those master influencers and speakers whom thousands of people listened to and sought advice from. Therefore I was naturally attracted to the book and ended up finishing it in a few days!
I thought I had discovered a great secret which very few people knew about!
You see I was pretty dumb back then (Sometimes I still am!). I forgot to notice the part on the front cover where it said ‘More than 15 million copies sold!’. It was a good thing I didn’t notice it. If I had, then I’d have assumed that more than half the world knew about influence and there was no great secret to it!
So happily I set off putting the little tips mentioned in the book to use. I started to smile more, say thank you more and listen genuinely to people. The surprising part was it worked! I became more persuasive and assertive and before I knew it my confidence in my ability to influence peaked!
Later when I looked back, I realized though the book had sold so many copies, not even 10% of the people who had bought the book ever put it to use. They never bothered acting on all the golden advice given in the book! Had they tried even a little, it could have helped them become better influencers in life!
Most of the advice in the book is still pretty sound. But in today’s world, it takes more than just being nice and saying thank you to become a master influencer. These things might make you more likeable and get you more friends, but if you seek to influence people, you will have to learn from the best and start following them.
Whether you want to become a better Manager, Blogger or an Effective Leader in your field, you need to learn and master the art of influence. And who better to teach you influence than some of the most powerful influencers in the world!
What Master-Influencers Do Differently
After having studied the actions of many master influencers – old and new, I can say with a great degree of confidence that they all have some common characteristics which you and I can learn from. So what do they do differently which gives them the power to influence people around them?
Use The Power of Communication
The one thing which all influencers do with extreme efficiency is communication. If you wish to stand out from the pack and become a master at exerting influence, you need to understand the different forms of communication.
1. Verbal and Written Communication
The written and the spoken word. As an influencer you will have to choose words carefully when communicating to your target audience. Because once the words are written or spoken there is no way you can take them back.
Imagine an average manner of trying to communicate his vision to the team
“Team , we should achieve $xx million in the next 2 years and develop a product which will make us no 1 in the market!”
Motivating? Maybe. Powerful? Not nearly enough. Memorable? Hardly!
Now look at how Steve Jobs communicated his vision
“We are here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”
Simple. Powerful. Profound.
Master Influencers understand this principle and put it to use. They choose their words carefully and ensure they carry maximum impact and benefit their audience. You too can follow their lead. Thinking for a few seconds before speaking/writing can produce wonderful results.
2. Non- Verbal and Para-Verbal Communication
Non-Verbal communication constitutes a very important part of communication. In fact only 7 – 8% of your communication is verbal. Almost a majority of it is made up of things like your body language, posture and poise.
Para-Verbal communication is a lesser known and relatively ignored form of communication which the masters employ to their use. Para- verbal refers to how you put across your message. Sometimes the same words if conveyed with the right tone, pitch and cadence can have a deadly effect. Master Influencers also learn to use silence to communicate their intent.
So next time when you wish to communicate, keep these elements in the back of your mind. With gradual practice you will definitely be able to become a better communicator and an influencer.
Listen with Empathy
When was the last time you gave undivided attention to someone speaking to you?
Bill Clinton was the most charismatic person in any room not because he was a great speaker. It was because he was a listener who could make you feel as if you were the only person in the room! When he listened, he actually cared and made sure you understood that. This one quality alone made even his enemies admire him.
Listening is said to be a fast disappearing trait nowadays where all of us seem happy to be in our own worlds all the time. All it takes is to mute your internal noise and bring all your attention to the person in front of you. It’s not hard as you think! Next time when someone talks to you, try listening not just with your ears but your entire being and watch the magic unfold!
Are Not Afraid to Ask for Help
Many people make the mistake of assuming that in order to influence, you always need to be in a position of power or superiority in a situation. And because of this convoluted thought process, they stay smug and aloof when it comes to asking for help.
Master-Influencers do the exact opposite.
Influence happens in equal measure when you are not afraid to ask for help and do so fearlessly. Because it tells the people around you that you are not someone who is arrogant and cocky but a level-headed individual who wants to learn from the people around.
Moreover this keeps your ego in check and teaches you how to harness the talent and skills of people around you! This in effect will make you a better leader and an influencer.
Over to You
Whether consciously or not, we are all trying to be Master Influencers in our own little worlds. But the trick is to realize that influence is not rocket science. And as long as influence is not used as a selfish tool for power but rather as a means to benefit those around you, you will thrive.
So what are the other ways Master Influencers set themselves apart? Would love to know your thoughts…