10 Ways to Magically Influence People
Any man in a leadership role knows how important it is to exert influence over others. Influencing people can sometimes be a challenge and, like anything, there are certainly right and wrong ways to do it. Shouting and making threats is an ultimately ineffective way of truly wielding influence. In fact, research suggests that making threats significantly decreases one's chances of influencing people. Truly influential people are ultimately respected and well-liked because they wield their influence with subtlety: Here are 10 highly effective yet subtle ways to influence people.
#1 Rational Persuasion
In a business environment, one of the best and most effective ways of subtly exerting one's influence is by using 'rational persuasion.' Rational persuasion is the calm use of logical arguments and factual evidence to persuade the person being influenced that a proposal is viable and therefore should be carried out. This can also be applied to virtually any aspect of your life. For example, if you want to go on vacation to Las Vegas but your girlfriend would rather spend her time with you in Paris, sit her down and calmly and rationally explain to her that during this tough economic period, a drive to Las Vegas is much less financially draining than expensive plane tickets to Europe and therefore, Las Vegas is the more viable option. The use of rational persuasion is supported by scientific studies on strategies that ultimately lead to commitment.
Humans, like many other animals, place great emphasis on the importance of colour and what it can tell us. Predators in the animal kingdom use colour to distinguish threats and, in a similar way, humans subconsciously perceive certain signals from different colours. There is such a thing as 'colour strategy' in the marketing world wherein the psychological value of each colour and what signal is emits is taken into account when formulating a new product or advertisement. For example, a marketing company may use a lot of red in an advertising campaign because it is the colour that the eye perceives quickest. In addition, research suggests that heart rate, respiratory rate and the frequency of eye blinks all increase when a subject sees red in stark contrast to blue, which has a more calming effect. In addition to its relaxing nature, blue is a colour that is favoured by men and tends to represent surpassing oneself, loyalty, trust and authority: all the qualities that one would expect in an influential figure. And indeed, psychological evidence and studies on trust suggest that if you want to successfully influence others, wearing lots of blue will help.
#3 Perceived Competence
Convincing others of your competence doesn't simply mean saying: 'trust me, I know what I'm talking about'; if anything, that makes people less likely to have confidence in your judgment. Research already tells us that perceived competence is an important factor of influence and unfortunately for women, inaccurate gender stereotypes generally cause people to perceive women as less competent and less suitable for managerial roles than men. Men usually don't have to battle these misinformed stereotypes but often have to reassure people of their abilities. One of the most effective ways of doing this is not by monitoring what we say, but rather how we say it: studies have shown that speaking steadily with few hesitations and stumbles in addition to avoiding indirect and mitigated language makes you appear more competent and, by association, more influential to others. The frequent proper use of large words in your common speech also helps drive the appearance of competence and thereby raises your influential ability. It is also interesting to note that studies have shown that a beard can lower perceptions of your competence but when paired with glasses or a bald head, a beard has a positive effect on competence ratings.
#4 Word Choices
Nothing is more powerful than language: it is an abstraction that can exert a strong influence over people and their actions. This is especially important in the English language which has a particularly large vocabulary when compared to other languages around the world: where one language has only one word to express a certain meaning, English may have five or six. Many words in English may have similar, but slightly varied meanings, so it can be important to choose the right word when it comes to conveying the right message. For example, 'bossing' and 'oversee' are two English words with similar meanings, yet their use in a sentence can produce very different results. If you were to say to someone in a junior position at work 'I'm your boss', you may incite a negative reaction from the person being spoken to. By using the term 'boss,' you are elevating yourself to a higher level and, by association, lowering them. If you were to say: 'I'm just overseeing this project,' the meaning you're trying to convey is essentially the same: you are the person in charge and therefore a person of influence. The difference is that by using the word 'oversee' rather than 'boss,' you are still emphasizing your position of authority without alienating those around you.
In general, people tend to make the heuristic assumption that entourages follow influential and notable people. The presence of an entourage has the same psychological effect as riding in a limousine: it makes you look important and the perception of importance is very influential. The presence of an entourage is a form of social proof. It is simply a visual representation that can be used to tell others about the level of your own influence and cause them to likewise rank you of greater importance thereby making themselves more susceptible to your influence. You don't need to surround yourself with living, breathing sycophants all day every day, you just need people see you with as little as one or two men by your side every now and again. Not only does having your own entourage project an exaggerated image of your importance and influence, but it also serves a greater personal purpose: it can make you feel important and influential, providing you with the motivation and confidence necessary to truly influence others.
#6 Clothing and style
How you dress and how you appear to others cannot be underestimated. One particular psychological experiment conducted in the eighties revealed that people who dress in a more masculine manner are more likely to be hired by professionals and to be taken more seriously in the business world. Additionally, another study conducted suggested that those who are physically attractive and stylish are more likely to be perceived as happy and desirable, both socially and professionally. The key is to dress for success: if you want to be seen as an influential and powerful person, dress like one. If you look like a mess, then people with think your managerial style is a mess. If you don't respect your own appearance, how will you ever expect people to respect you? You want people to look up to you and to aspire to be like you so you need to dress the part.
#7 Verb usage
Perhaps even more important than choosing the right word to use is knowing how to use the verb in the sentence. When trying to influence someone in a work situation, it is important to be aware of the verb that you're using. For example, if you want someone to photocopy a document and you phrase it as: 'photocopy that document', it comes across as an order. By using what we call the imperative form of the verb, it gives the entire sentence an authoritarian quality and portrays you as bossy and demanding which is hardly the most effective and subtle way of influencing people. However, if you were to say: 'could you get this document photocopied?' it gives the sentence an entirely different meaning. Here, the verb is in its passive form and the introduction of a new verb ('get') suggests that the person doing the photocopying is in control. You are still asking them to do something, but now the act is not so much an order and they are much more likely to comply with your request.
Everyone wants to feel respected but respect works both ways: you should never expect to earn it unless you are also giving it back. If you don't respect people, they won't respect you and your influence over them will be severely diminished. If you want to influence people, it's always worth keeping three little words stored in the back of your mind: 'please' and 'thank you.' These words are short and sweet, they can be tagged onto the end of any request and they mean a lot.
Praise is a form of reward and studies show that praise can be an effective motivator and reinforce of behaviour. People in a leadership roles often overlook the importance of praise. If you want to influence others and you want to get the best out of people under your leadership, uttering a phrase as simple as 'good work' after they perform what you asked of them is sometimes all it takes. This distribution of praise needn't just be confined to instances of good work: even if an assignment isn't completed on time or someone doesn't do something you've asked them to do, always start with praise before giving criticism. HR professionals often use similar techniques. If you begin by saying 'you've been doing some really great work these last few months', the person being spoken to will instantly feel valued as a worker which then softens the blow of the following criticism. By reinforcing criticism with praise, you promote a positive social relationship between you and the people around you. Doing this encourages others to carry out assignments because they owe it to you as a figure of respect.
#10 Tone of Voice
Studies on tone of voice have profound implications for influence. It seems that deeper, bass voice is a powerful indicator of high testosterone levels and representative of greater virility -- an alpha male characteristic. It is important to note that various studies have consistently shown that people with deeper voices are considered more knowledgeable, commanding and credible than others with notably higher voices. If a man speaks with a higher-pitched voice, it gives the impression that he is unsure, uneasy and uncomfortable with himself and his surroundings and thus hardly the kind of figure to command faith and optimism in those around him. Practice speaking in a lower voice by lowering your chin and begin by speaking slowly and in a more monotone way.
[Courtesy: ]10 Ways to Magically Influence People | MSN Arabia Lifestyle