Sensing into Influence
Influence doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
I’ve coached numerous executives who want to be great at influencing. As we explore what it takes, it quickly becomes apparent that influence starts with paying attention to signals … signals that come from within you and around you.
Influence starts with noticing signals or sensations within you. As you pay attention to your own sensations, you may find that some of them are affected by your thoughts and mindset. It’s important to consider how you might be protecting your ego. When the ego is in the way, it inhibits your ability to notice other helpful sensations like:
- a gut feeling or an intuition you have,
- the way your own breath modulates, or
- how you might move when doing something.
It is also important to notice sensory signals around you, such as:
- inflections in another’s voice,
- something that catches your eye in a room, or
- the energy you perceive in a situation.
As you pay attention to external signals, remember others’ egos may affect your ability to influence them. As that is often the case, a useful approach is simply to articulate what’s going on by asking (e.g., “I sense you may have another desire I’m not aware of…would you tell me about it?”).
Once you are in touch with your own senses and get more in tune with those around you, you can use the information and insight gained to increase your ability to influence. At this point, you can employ more cognitive tactics such as considering:
- why you believe influence is needed and what will be better because of it,
- who you want to impact and assessing the strength of that relationship,
- what that person or group desires and how that can work in concert with your desires, and
- when it is best to act and how that timing might serve a bigger plan, if possible.
Your ability to influence is most powerful when you combine your ability to sense the sometimes-hidden signals with tactics like these.
This Week’s Challenge: Practice paying attention to sensory signals. Choose a few low stakes situations and observe what’s going on both within you and around you. This practice can help you become more in tune with your sensory abilities and prepare you for higher stakes situations where you wish to have an influence on something or someone.
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