How to Influence People and Make Them Feel Good
Most discussions on how to influence people eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction: building strong relationships for positive influence.
Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams not through brute force, but through careful appeals to their sensibilities.
Carnegie’s book is great, but there are other resources, too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is that learning how to influence people is about centering on the humanity of others.
Chances are you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars and having positive impacts. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.
To influence people in a positive way, you need to be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique in order to start making a positive impact on others.
Discover your unique take on an issue, and then live up to and honor that. One of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctively appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.
Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and, thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positive influence on others.
If you’re not sure how to discover your own sense of authenticity, you can try Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment. It can help you identify the areas where your life may be falling short and causing you to feel inauthentic.
Dale Carnegie, who lived from 1888 to 1955, was an American writer and lecturer, and the developer of courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills. He is the author of 10+ books. He developed a system of training that is unique—a combination of public speaking, salesmanship, human relations, and applied psychology.
It grew into a book from the experience Carengie had leading his courses over 15 years. It was first published in 1937 with only 5,000 copies to be used as a textbook for his courses in Effective Speaking and Human Relations. He then continually improved until his death.
According to studies, 15 percent of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to personality and the ability to lead people ⇒ The highest-paid personnel in engineering are frequently not those who know the most about engineering ⇒ the person who has technical knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people is headed for higher earning power.
The University of Chicago, the American Association for Adult Education, and the United YMCA Schools conducted a survey to determine what adults want to study ⇒ It revealed “health” is the prime interest of adults—and that their second interest is “people” and human relationships (i.e. how to understand and get along with people; how to make people like you; and how to win others to your way of thinking).
The ability to speak is a shortcut to distinction ⇒ It puts a person in the limelight, raises one head and shoulders above the crowd ⇒ And the person who can speak acceptably is usually given credit for an ability out of all proportion to what he or she really possesses.
To get good at speaking, you only need self-confidence and an idea that is “boiling and stewing within” you. ⇒ To gain self-confidence, you must do the thing you fear to do and get a record of successful experience behind you.
A Better Way to Introduce Yourself
NIMON-PETERS: Humans everywhere show a tendency to be more heavily persuaded by the statements of people perceived to be high status. At work, a position of formal authority (like being the boss), endows high status and a significantly greater opportunity to be acknowledged, addressed and heard compared with other members of the group.
However, status in the workplace — or any goal-oriented team activity — is not only determined by formal authority but also by physical and contextual factors. There is little you can do about physical factors that sadly still impact us at a subconscious level (such as height, pitch of voice, attractiveness, etc.), but it is within your power to increase your contextual status so that your argument receives increased attention in a critical decision.
For example, when most people introduce themselves, they just introduce themselves according to their job title. However, your job title rarely has inherent meaning within a company, let alone outside it. People in the workplace often fail to mention crucial factors, such as their expertise or the past successes that they’ve had.
A better way to introduce yourself would be to mention that you have some kind of experience or capability in the topic being discussed at that meeting. Rather than to simply say, I’m the head sales person for North Africa, say instead, “I helped Client X in Rwanda to develop a significantly better service for their customers.” That is something that is status-enhancing. It means that people have a reason to listen to you, and your opinion will be more influential.
A Sense of Affiliation Goes a Long Way
NIMON-PETERS: The way I describe it in the book is affiliation (Principle Three), which is the sense people have that you are part of the same group — that you are similar and they have things in common with you. And I want to emphasize this is about feelings, because just telling people you’re on the same team is not enough.
We often think that logical explanations and logical reasons are going to influence people’s behavior. However, again, behavioral science demonstrates that it’s not reason that drives people, it’s emotion or an expectation of reward. The emotion comes first. The logic comes later as a justification. If you can create that sense of affiliation first, you are significantly more likely to influence their decisions in a variety of ways, including what they’re going to do.