Mastering the Art of Influence

Published on August 22, 2016


When we find ourselves stuck in the same place in our conversations, getting the same results, our first reaction is often to blame outside circumstances—the things beyond our control, which is usually the people we’re talking to. To turn the tables and Impact others who are critical to our success, we need to understand how to change the conversation to achieve better results. We need to understand our ability to Impact the outcome.

Here’s a simple example from my personal life. When I was married, I used to come home from a week on the road consulting or keynoting, and my wife was understandably eager to tell me all about her week. But I was exhausted and depleted and not in the right frame of mind to listen. You can imagine the conflict that ensued—every time. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t understand my need to have some time and space after spending a full week in extrovert mode. And at the time I didn’t grasp how she had missed me and needed a partner to share the details with.

Things changed one time when I was flying home, envisioning what was going to happen when I walked in the door. As an expert in Sales and Leadership, I finally asked myself why I wasn’t walking my own talk and doing the things I teach my clients to do. One of those things is if you want to change people’s reactions, you have to change your action. I realized I had to find a way to listen. When I got home that evening, I sat down at the dinner table and my wife started telling me all about her week. It felt a bit like I was sitting on my hands, grimacing, but I was genuinely listening, and the next thing I knew, she stopped talking and said, “You must be tired. We can do this some other time.“

Why did her reaction change? Because I changed my action. Instead of me being all about myself and telling her how unfair it was for her to expect all my attention the moment I walked in the door, I made myself available to her. Only when I was available to her was she able to become available to me and understand that I was tired and we could talk another time. If you want reactions to change in the the conversations you’re having with people, take responsibility and change your actions.

It doesn’t take two people to change a conversation or even a relationship—it only takes one. As leaders we have to take the responsibility and understand that it’s our job to change the actions. Don’t wait for somebody else to do it—they may not even know how. But you do.

Be the leader you are: take control of your life, take control of your destiny, and understand that you can change people’s reactions based on your approach—those initial actions in a conversation. Do that, and you’ll see the changes you’re hoping for.