Good leadership often comes down to influence. But it can be a tricky thing to pin down. With advice from our everywomanNetwork webinar How to influence the key people in your life with associate trainer Melanie Eusebe (now available to listen back on demand), we distil the five simple ways you can instantly become more influential.
1. Manage the message you give others – and yourself
Influencing is as much an exercise in personal brand as anything else. Put your authentic self at the heart of what you’re delivering with your words and actions. As well as looking at what you say to others, you need to carefully manage the voice in your head: what messages are you giving to yourself that impact your power in the minds of others?
2. Communicate with others as an adult
According to the theory of transactional analysis, we send and receive messages from three different ego states: parent, adult and child. You can say the exact same sentence three ways, but depending on which state you’re in, it might be heard very differently. The goal, if we want to be influential, is to communicate in ‘adult’ state. “It takes a lot of energy to be a parent, care for ourselves and the interests of others,” says Eusebe, “When you’re in a child state there are going to be more communication errors and you diminish your strength and independence.” It’s important to understand the person you’re communicating with is an adult too, with their own drivers, mission and values.” She adds, “Great leaders engage with us as adults and we leave empowered.”
3. Reframe your verbals and lose your fillers
The words you use make a difference. “Record yourself in a Zoom or on the phone and check how many times you use filler words such as ‘actually’, ‘literally’, ‘really’ and ‘maybe’,” says Eusebe. When you use these, you minimise the impact of what you want to say. “Declare your intentions,” she adds, “Instead of saying ‘We believe, we think, we feel’, say, ‘We are confident, we expect, we are optimistic’. Use ‘You’ll see’ rather than ‘I think you’ll see’.”
4. Change your physical posture
Body language matters just as much as what you say and hugely influences the impact you have. Research from social psychologist Amy Cuddy has found that how you stand actually affects your biological makeup. Cuddy’s research suggests that those who adopt ‘high-power poses’ demonstrate an increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol. Other research shows an increase in feelings of power. “Me sitting with my back straight, two feet planted on the floor, looking straight at the camera insinuates that I am confident and that I know what I am speaking about even though I haven’t said anything,” says Eusebe, “Your body language speaks volumes.”
5. Adopt a growth mindset
When we have a fixed mindset, we believe that we have limitations. When we have a growth mindset, we view ourselves as works in progress with unlimited potential to grow. It’s probably not too difficult to work out which one is preferable. A growth mindset means learning from constructive feedback and criticism: We’re often in transition from unconscious incompetence – not knowing what we don’t know – all the way through to unconscious competence – not even being aware we have that knowledge. We have to make a decision to push through our learning endeavours and become fully cognisant of what we still need to learn, while utilising to full effect all that we have.