Have you ever wondered why some people have great influence on others? What makes them so different?
What makes people follow them? What makes them compelling enough to make things change its course?
People who are of influence understand that it’s not the position you hold. You can be given a designation, but it does not necessarily follow that you are influential.
They also know that it’s much more than learning to communicate. They recognize that their influence comes from an assortment of reasons that we will discuss today.
If things haven’t been going their way, results which are opposite your expectations, don’t fret. Influence can be used to turnaround a situation. Let’s find out more about that:
To reach success, know that there are certain behaviors that must be present to achieve it.
To understand this concept let’s talk about how Thailand was faced with an HIV epidemic some time ago. Their program for controlling the situation is one of the most successful efforts done in the world.
This concern started within the circle of drug users who used and shared syringes, and we know HIV spreads fast intravenously. With some people afflicted in this circle, not too long it has transferred to the sex workers.
Now that it has reached the sex workers, the problem is now harder to control. Sex being their trade and one of the means where HIV is transmitted, it can spread to their customers. And these customers can spread it to their other sexual partners.
If the situation remains uncontrolled, it would surely affect a very large percentage of the Thai population. Something must be done to prevent the epidemic from spreading further in the country.
The response was to hold information campaign so the citizens would understand the situation and the potential dangers. However, the initially efforts were not that successful. The spread is still increasing in numbers.
They had to change their strategy to prevent the situation from getting worse. They instead focused their energies on the group who are more prone to receive and spread HIV.
Although the campaign is still for the public – the target of their education campaign now is for those who frequently visit sex workers, and the sex workers themselves.
They promoted the use of condoms for the sex workers and requiring them to regularly test for sexually transmitted diseases. They were also asked to carry their results with them at all times.
Do you see what they did there? They have focused on an essential behavior which has propelled the campaign into a success. In this case, they have focused on the sex workers.
So when you are in a dire situation, it can be difficult to change every aspect to achieve success. Look for those key behaviors that you can change and will cause a positive chain reaction.
We have discussed that some key behavior must be present to effect change. However, how should you change their behavior? How do you change their current mindsets?
Your behavior is essentially based on your beliefs. What happens to you is an effect of what you have done. You have pictured the cause and the effect.
Let’s say, you think that petting a dog would make it angry. Therefore, if you did pet it – it will bite you.
In truth, that doesn’t really happen all the time but that could be your belief so you never pet dogs at all. That’s your mindset, even if it doesn’t hold true always. Relating that to behaviors, you have to change the believed cause and effect.
Is changing the behavior worth the time, effort, and the resources need to do it? Can it really be done?
These are the questions that must be asked for changing mindsets. Like the HIV situation discussed above, the initial action would probably to try to convince the person who is afraid of dogs that dogs are friendly animals.
You give them reasons why dogs do not mean harm and a lot more explanations why one must not fear them.
However, despite the way your promoted dogs – when faced with the actual situation, they may still be too afraid to go near the dog. It did not work. Actual situations are different despite what you have told them previously.
A way of going around this is providing experience. The next time you’re with a dog, ask the person to have a go in petting it. Instead of changing his previous belief, you ask the person on the exact situation to just give it a try.
If providing experience is not feasible, you can do another method – use narratives. However, these are not your ordinary narratives. It must elicit emotions and your audience should be able to identify with the story. They need to be able to empathize.
It must stir something within them. Stories about changing for the better. Stories about giving up something, to give way for something brighter. It could be the audience’s story as well.
It must appeal to the emotions, strong enough to change something within you. You can do that through stories.
Are you motivated enough to change? Can you do that change? These are questions that starts the behavior transformation. Let’s check changes on different levels.
To change a belief whether it’s regarding diet, lifestyle, or mannerisms, we have to show the individual the opposite of the things they are holding on to.
For example, being addicted to junk food. This can be rooted in the belief, that healthy snacks are not tasty. You instead provide an experience – offer deliciously prepared healthy snacks to discard of the notion that anything healthy is not palatable.
Another way is focusing on what they will be achieving in the end. A good example is for people who have never exercised a day in their life before.
Their first experience may not be pleasant given they have not tried it before but when you say that it will benefit them in the long run – it changes things.
When you exercise, you will have more energy for the things you’d like to pursue. Like if they wanted to hike but fear they are not fit enough to do it – they can prepare for it by exercising. Reminding the individual on the end goal is a great motivation.
If nothing seems to work, try spending time with the person and discuss what his thoughts are. The thing is, you may have not known what the individual wanted in the first place.
Talk with them until you understand the behavior they want to change. Be an active listener and don’t assume.
There’s an area between what we want to do and what we really can do. Nothing wrong with having gap in skills necessary to arrive at the outcome. Any individual can improve by undergoing further skills training.
Have time to acquire the needed skills. Make it a point also to assess the skills you are learning to do. The norm would usually be testing your newly acquired skills after a time. How about gathering results as you go along the way?
Get feedback regularly so you can improve in the process. This way you can immediately get back on track when it seems like you’re going off the path a bit.
As much as you want the journey to be fuss-free, it will not be. There will be some issues, setbacks, and concerns. Be realistic with your expectations.
Another group that plays a large impact in your life are those who are in your social circle. What they say can largely affect your opinion, what you do, and the outcome.
With your social circle taking this role of influence, it’s important that you should make it work to your advantage. Undeniably, there is a certain number of people who have a larger influence in the group. These are the people who you should focus on to convince.
Convincing them to change their opinion can lead in changing the opinion of the whole group. The first instinct may be to convince the whole group first but think about how changing the mindset of those with bigger influence is more effective.
There are times when the actual problem is the people – they are actually the ones causing the issues. A bigger problem is when the people around are aware but not doing anything about it.
They just watch and let those people do the damage. In this kind of situation, you should convince those who are just spectators to the issue to take action.
There are also situations that you have to acknowledge that you can’t do on your own. For example, big events.
You can’t decorate the venue, plan the logistics, oversee the program, make time with the guests, and so on – all by yourself. It’s a group effort. There are a lot of projects similar to this.
In this case, you can’t just address a small group to accomplish the big task. You need a lot of hands to get things working. Although it can be a little hard to ask help – you must. Some people would assume that asking help it equivalent to admitting you can’t do the ask.
That’s not true as we know. Those who are of influence understand that there are some situations where you really need help.
If it’s not easy for you asking help, practice doing it. Acknowledge that there are tasks best accomplished together.
At a structural level, the motivation changes – think about incentives for a job well done and accountability for assigned tasks. However, do take note that this isn’t the first thing that you should think about. It should come after satisfying several conditions.
We have discussed essential behaviors earlier and it must be first realized that acquiring such is already satisfying by itself. With this, they seek also help within their social circle. After that, comes this desire for acknowledgement or rewards.
The way to give rewards for exhibiting essential behavior is by acknowledging it immediately. Rewarding them while exhibiting the desired behavior is more effective than waiting for the actual awarding event.
Make sure though that you are not just recognizing the results, take notice and acknowledge the behavior present to achieve that goal. This way, they understood what caused it and this behavior would surely be a habit to them.
Another important point to remember, that there should be accountability in the outcome. Balance penalty and rewarding.
Don’t go overboard with punishments as this will also cause low morale, and eventually loss of motivation. It’s just a matter of not being too harsh or too soft – be reasonable.
Lastly, it’s about changing the environment around to make essential behavior happen. The truth is, what is physically around affects behavior. Consequently, change the physical environment to encourage the essential behavior.
To set this point, imagine eating with a teaspoon instead of a regular spoon – the amount of food to be consumed should be the same for both. The amount of food will not indicate how full you are. The experience does – using a different utensil changed things for you.
It is how often you dive into your food using your utensil. Using the teaspoon gives the impression you have eaten more.
Same goes for numbers. Knowing them ahead would affect performance. Like in sports, scores often give you feeling of hope or despair. Don’t let it influence you early on.
Being of great influence is really a game changer. It affects decisions and inspire changes. You can be an influencer if you set out and know what it takes to do it.
It’s not easy but knowing where to evoke change, does matter. It’s all in your hands if you want to turnaround a situation – you can do it by working hard and learning to influence the right way.