Today Influencing as a skill is becoming more and more important
and critical. Where earlier people or departments would work in Silos and were more hierarchical; today that has changed to a lot of cross functional dependence and flatter structures where authority or position doesn't always get the desired response from people .
The ability to effectively Influence is needed in many scenarios:
Presenting a new idea , initiative or plan in a conference or board room
Discussing and persuading others during a meeting
Convincing the supervisor for something new
Gaining commitment and ownership from reporters
Influence doesn't happen in vacuum, many people complain that nobody in their group listens or pays heed to what they are saying. Many of us generally face the same problem time and over again.
How many of us can relate to a time when we were trying to share a view in a group, repeatedly trying to speak, starting a few words... and somebody else kept butting in and acting as if you were, either not there or not saying anything of consequence.
Often when that happens we react in one of 2 ways:
By keeping quiet and feeling that nobody cares about what we have to say. This leads us to reduce contribution in discussions and avoid presentations or just always believing the "boss is always right"
By getting angry, raising our voices and demanding to be heard. Leading to conflict with our peers, getting into arguments with managers or becoming an autocratic or dictatorial leader.
What upsets us even more is that within the group there will
be some who will be given the attention of all, without them
having to make much of an effort to be heard. In fact, people
will look to that person for a view, even when he/she doesn't
want to share one.
So what is it that makes this person an influencer without even trying that hard?
How do I get people to sit-up and pay attention when I speak?
Like many others I used to be one in the crowd who faced just the same issues. Below are some things that worked for me and each one of us can do to build a personality that gets people to sit up listen!!
The important thing to remember is that my credibility and trust within the group is the first thing people subconsciously refer to when I speak. Thus, if I have built an image of being trustworthy, reliable and dependable then de facto my views suggestions and ideas are looked at in the same way.
So what affects my credibility and makes me trustworthy, reliable and dependable?
2 . Grab opportunities
Building an influential personality is more than just credibility,
it is also about grabbing opportunities that come up and showing ones influence on situations and events around. Very often we wait for opportunities to come to us and many valuable opportunities pass us by. It is critical to keep our eyes and ears open for areas, situations and events where we can influence the outcome and thus make others aware of us and what we can do.It could be an opportunity
to deliver a presentation, arrange an event, organised and chair a meeting or an open forum to share your idea or view points. The challenge is many of us shy away from such opportunities and then wonder "why people don't sit
up and listen to us"
3. Take responsibility & ownership
At times when I need to work with others, In situations when someone else has grabbed the opportunity or stepped up; the ownership or responsibility I take for a team goal reflects on my character and connect with the bigger picture. How hard I work to support others, how involved I get even if someone else might get the credit, shows others that I care more for the team goal and bigger picture than just my own interests. That will get me an element of respect from the group that automatically translates into an ability to influence the group more easily where & when required.
Often there are situations where no one is willing to "bell the cat". This is an ideal situation for a person to Step up and take the initiative on something. It is a chance to step into the spotlight and shine. Of course there are risks involved, there will always be questions that we ask ourselves.
What if it fails? What if things don't go according to plan? What if I make a fool of myself in the bargain?
The point is ....Those who have the courage to Step up and work out ways to give it their best shot will always be looked up to. Sometimes they will succeed and at other times fail. However, people will always look up to them for the courage they showed when others were unwilling.
So when are you going to STEP UP!!