Leadership and influencing people are more than delegating tasks in a business setting. It shapes communities, families and can inspire people to reach new heights. When Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in the 1992 presidential election, they managed to become friends despite the political discourse among parties. “I think dad was willing to rise above the political contest,” George W. Bush said. “In other words, it starts with the individual’s character, and both men, in my judgment, displayed a strong character and therefore their friendship was able to be formed.” Building sustainable relationships will not happen overnight and it takes time to grow. It’s sharpening and mastering the art of listening, respecting people and their views even when you don’t agree. At the end of the day, influencing people is about serving, not about how many people can become your puppet. “How you treat other people is a reflection of your values, so make sure you treat everyone with the respect and caring heart they deserve,” author Dave Ramsey shared. If you want to shape others and win people over in your personal and professional life, consider the following points.
Do things with excellence.
Stop doing things half-heartedly in your life and this means outside of work. Author and influencer John Maxwell said in order to gain a reputation for excellence you need to deliver the results. This means being a good spouse, being a trustworthy friend and being ethical in business. People who drive towards living with excellence always want to improve. “They make sure to be better tomorrow than they are today. Excellent leaders are voracious learners. Since they’re constantly growing, they always have fresh insights to impart to their teammates.” Standout from the pack in life and begin making a commitment to do things with distinction.
You can’t divulge everything but if you want people to trust, you need to prove to be honest. Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy found people will answer a couple of questions when they first meet you. The first is “Can they trust you?” and the second is “Can they respect you?” She said if you’re trying to persuade someone who doesn’t trust you or respect you, it’s moot. “You might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative. A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you’ve established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat.” Why do we lie? Most of us want people to think well of us and rather forgo telling the truth because it might not be as colorful. Lying is failing to act with courage during an uncomfortable situation.
Connect more with others.
One thing is certain, politicians can really connect with people and although it may not be genuine, it works. Most leaders today tend to emphasize their strength, titles and power in the workplace, Harvard Business Review reported. Yet, this is not the correct mindset. People who project this are usually not likable, like most political leaders. “In a study of 51,836 leaders, only 27 of them were rated in the bottom quartile in terms of likability and in the top quartile in terms of overall leadership effectiveness.” The kicker here is they found only 1 solid leader in 2,000 people. Clinton said his uncle taught him how to relate with people and this made him more genuine. For him, it was hearing about their personal narratives which allowed him to create a special connection. “People are inherently interesting if they can get out of their own ways, so I was taught to listen and to look,” he shared at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. “I always thought I would have a better life if I could have somebody else have a better life too.”
You won’t be able to connect with people if you lack empathy. Many researchers believe empathy is the foundation of all relationships. Merriam-Webster defined what empathy means. It is “The feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions: the ability to share someone else’s feelings.” Tone-deaf responses from leaders in business or in the household give way to miscommunication and resentment because people want to be heard. In just a conversation one can tell if the other person is paying attention and empathizing. For example, they may not use eye contact or could be staring at the computer screen while nodding in agreement or in disagreement. There are different kinds of empathy, however. Daniel Goleman is an expert in studying emotional intelligence and found high-level managers are the most at risk for having a compassion deficiency. “As you rise through the ranks fewer and fewer people are candid with you, willing to give you frank feedback on how you seem to others.”
Give people praise.
Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends & Influence People remains a blueprint on how to network and how to succeed in life. Published in 1937, the author stressed to always focus on what you have in common and offer genuine praise. “Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement,” Carnegie wrote. Make sure you show gratitude toward people who really blessed you and did a good job for you. Also, encouragement could involve pointing out a negative thing, but also points out the potential. Words have the power to motivate or tear down. If we’re more cautious with them, there is power to spark something within someone to propel them beyond the finish line. People don’t leave an organization, they leave bad bosses. We need to celebrate the people in our daily lives and show them appreciation on and off the clock.
Influencing and winning over people doesn’t come spontaneously in our social media culture. You actually need to work at it and invest your time in growing relationships. We vary in our beliefs, but the human factor never changes as people will respond if you can relate to them. This is not about manipulation; it’s about finding common ground with a shared passion or belief. Understanding and respecting a person’s values will make you trustworthy and a personality worth knowing.