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Trust is essential in influencing people. Trust is essential in influencing people. Featured
11 February 2021 Posted by 

THE POWER OF INFLUENCE: PART 1

10 essential tips to gaining influence
MARIA FOK
INFUENCE is prevalent in our society, the media (traditional and social), in the marketplace and workplace.
It seems that someone is constantly vying for a piece of our brain. So much so that ‘Influencer’ has apparently become a valid new age occupation. 
 
Influence, to me, simply refers to a capacity to have an effect on someone and this leads to the attainment of an outcome.  
 
Not only do some seasoned executives and leaders exercise their influence, but it is also a covert form of power that those without structural authority may be skilled at utilising.  
 
Curiously, my software is suggesting that I replace the phrase ‘have an effect on’ with the word ‘influence’.  
 
Why is Influence Attractive?
 
In the case of marketers, retailers, vendors or advertisers, influence is used to access our hearts, minds and ultimately our wallet.  In the workplace, influence may lead to progress and outcomes.  
 
It is also a means of achieving power, positioning, advancement and potentially some form of gain, even though it may not immediately translate into financial earnings.  
 
The powers of influence are rigorously utilised in social and political agendas and to drive the zeitgeist of this era.  
 
This includes elections or decisions affecting public health and safety.  
 
How often have we been ‘recommended’ to wear a mask or to wash our hands, rather than mandated or directed?  For some leaders, saving one’s skin seems to be the top priority. 
 
Even when life and death are in question, bold, courageous leadership and decision making are uncommon.  The use of influence has strategic benefits for some.
 
Quality of Influence
 
Boards look at not just results but quality of outcomes.  In my view the real test of ‘quality of influence’ depends on how long this influence is sustainable for, the depth and extent of this effect and whether the intended outcome is honourable, for the greater good or is mutually rewarding.  
 
Who Has It and How Is It Gained?
 
Ironically, the barriers to entry in gaining influence are ‘low-ish’. Anyone can try. A conferred job title and structural seniority are not pre-requisites.  
 
Influence is not exclusive to those with constructive, respectable intentions either.  In truth, many disreputable entities or people are also incredibly good at this game.
 
People with influence demonstrate or utilise the following;  
 
1. Trust - They earn one’s trust, which is the basis of most relationships and is powerful.  nfluential people understand their own strengths and attributes, real or perceived, and utilise these towards earning credibility, respect, admiration and results.  
 
2. Presence – Unless one has divine power, being heard, visible, communicative and understood are essential in motivating others and creating momentum.
 
3. Emotional Connection – They may draw on the heart strings. Afterall, the target is human. Robots are never influenced. Emotional decisions can be instantaneous, and humans are far less rational and logical than we think. Pathos can trump ethos and logos. Translation: an appeal to emotions can be stronger than using credibility or logic. 
 
4. Attention – They know how to capture one’s attention. There is likely to be some form of narrative or storyline that is verbal or visual. A story, told well, is captivating and people love this.
 
5. Insight – Skilled at reading their target and can see a physical, emotional, commercial or circumstantial need or void and thus take action.
 
6. Attraction - Ultimately there must be some form of positive chemistry or charisma. Even the wicked witch reportedly used a house of candy to entice Hansel and Gretel, not brussels sprouts or celery.  
 
7. Compelling Reasons – Not only may these involve data, analysis, research, logic and appeals to knowledge and science. Emotive reasons may play on human nature and weakness. We are all bound by the human condition.
 
8. Create Perceived Value – This may or may not be real, but perception is reality.    
 
9. Confidence – They believe in their purpose, and it shows.
 
10. Care – People feel there is benefit in engaging. 
 
Conclusion: Influence is part of our lives which we may learn and understand.
 
As our world is far from Utopian, influence can also be chronically misused or intentionally misconstrued. In Part 2 of this series and set in the context of a modern-day workplace, I will share an example that will heighten your awareness.
 
Maria Fok has experience in ASX-listed, government and global organisations. She writes and speaks about innovation, leadership and how to accelerate success.


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