7 Ways to Influence Other People

When it comes to the principles of persuasion, there's a reason why these tried-and-true formulas have worked for centuries.

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By Farrah Smith • Feb 5, 2021

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A person's ability to influence is one of the most essential skills for leaders at any level.

Many of us assume that an individual's capacity to influence is due to their confidence, intellect and charisma. Perhaps it comes later in life in conjunction with a powerful title or burgeoning bank account. The reality is we all have this ability. However most of us fail to tap into this attribute, believing that persuasion is a natural talent.

The aptitude to influence doesn't just happen. It is a purposefully honed skill involving careful intention and the people we revere are leading us using the same formula that has worked for centuries. If you are looking to cultivate your capacity to influence, then here are seven key steps to becoming a master of persuasion

"The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it." - Dale Carnegie

1. Build trust and be consistent

One crucial mistake people often make is thinking that influence can be episodic.

In the book Psychology of Persuasion, author Robert Cialdini stresses that you cannot demonstrate integrity in someone when you are in the midst of persuasion. You must garner their trust and always have their best interests at heart. To do this, it is essential to build a solid rapport and a genuine concern for an individual before endeavoring to direct them towards a certain outcome. You must act with authenticity, demonstrating that you are trustworthy and that your primary goal is to help.

2. Be present and connect

To be fully engaged in the moment, hear more and speak less.

By being an active listener, you gain insight into what is driving the other person emotionally. Once you understand the emotional factors steering their thinking, you can demonstrate that you understand them, and your conversation will advance.

If you appear distracted, insincere, or self-concerned, you will lose them from the outset and they will likely be resistant to your efforts.

As Napoleon Hill articulated in his eminent book Think and Grow Rich: "Selling and persuasion are the transference of emotion."

Related: Mastering Negotiations: How To Make Sales A Win-Win Situation

3. Ask to understand

Questions persuade more powerfully than any other form of verbal behavior. The more you ask, the more successful the interaction will be.

Before you can motivate someone, you need to understand their core values and driving forces. Are they hoping to make a difference in the world, gain admiration from their peers or advance their career? What is fundamentally essential to them? What are they going through in their life?

A great way to do this is to ask them a series of open-ended questions, then follow up with "why?" multiple times. The root answer never comes from the initial query, so dig deep.

Remember that people don't do things for your reasons; they do it for their reasons. You must take the time to fully understand their motivation at the deepest level. Knowing the essence of a person will give you more influence, and if you fail to inspire, you probably didn't know what was truly driving them in the first place.

4. Educate and encourage

Most influential people primarily impel others through teaching.

People listen more effectively when you teach them how to make better choices, how to handle problems, and how to think about their lives and circumstances in a constructive and self-supporting way.

The most compelling way to teach a lesson is to inspire through storytelling, metaphors and analogies. Walk them through relatable emotional experiences but encourage them to take the lead in shaping the outcome and discover the answers for themselves. The easiest way to persuade someone is by helping them persuade themselves.

Related: 10 Reasons Deals Collapse

5. Confirm suspicions and acknowledge objections

First and foremost, never make the other person wrong. As soon as you injure their intention, they will become triggered and you will lose.

If there is an element of truth to any suspicion they may have, deal with it head-on. Nobody can expose your weaknesses in a better light than you. Doing so will also bestow you with credibility and allow you to resolve their concern before giving them the chance to object.

6. Praise lavishly but sincerely

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, author Dale Carnegie stresses how vital it is to compliment the person you are trying to persuade. Make them feel important, and show admiration, but always do it earnestly.

Every person seeks out sincere praise. But be mindful of the fine line between acclaim and flattery, as fawning can turn a person off.

7. Challenge and encourage

People who have the most influence are usually those who consistently encourage us to become better versions of ourselves. By challenging us to raise our standards, learn from failures, mistakes, and setbacks, push through our own glass ceilings, and persuading us to demonstrate impeccable character in the face of adversity. They see who we are capable of being, what we can accomplish, and inspire us to rise to the level of our true ability.

Nothing mobilizes attention, or energizes us, better than a challenge that demands we stretch our knowledge, boosts our skills and enhance our ability to reach another level of success.

Whatever your objective, whether you want to get others to do something, change something, be something, buy something or believe in you, you need to approach your conversations with these critical steps in mind. You can recall the key tactics easily by using High-Performance Coach Brendon Burchard's acronym CUP to facilitate your interactions: Connect, Uplift and Praise.

We are not born leaders with an innate ability to persuade others. We must actively cultivate the skills, and by doing so, we can thrive.

Related: The 3 Best Books for Entrepreneurs to Return To, Again and Again

Related: How to Raise Your Emotional Intelligence in 3 Steps

Related: Why Good Listening Is a Critical Skill for Founders and Entrepreneurs

Farrah Smith

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer


Farrah Smith spent more than a decade working as a senior director of a world-renowned charity. She owns Farrah Smith Coaching, where she teaches a course that helps teens and young entrepreneurs reach their full potential emphasizing mindful living, neuroscience and healthy high-performance habits.

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