Influence: Should We Lead by Focusing on the Head or the Heart?

What is influence, anyway?

The dictionary defines influence as the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself. We all use influence with our kids, spouses/significant others, students, colleagues, employees, or customers. The question is when utilizing influence should we focus on the head or the heart of those we are trying to influence?

Both the head and the heart approach are both important; however to be most effective start by influencing the heart. How can you do that? Below are five strategies in using a heart approach:

1. Validate feelings. Before people decide what they think of your message, they decide what to think of you. If you want those people above (customers, colleagues, etc) to listen and agree with you, you must first agree with them. People will respect you for emphasizing with them which in turn will cause them to be more open to hearing what you have to say.

2. Smile….and mean it! Who would have thought something so simple would be something so powerful? Feeling happy makes us smile, and smiling makes us happy. It’s also contagious. Think about it…when you see someone smile, what happens? You also smile! When we smile sincerely, that warmth is projected to others and projects back onto us. To project warmth however, you have to genuinely feel it.

3. Feel in command. Warmth may be harder to fake, but confidence is harder to talk yourself into. Feeling into command and confident is about connecting with yourself.

4. Stand up straight. It is hard to overstate the importance of good posture in projecting authority and an intention to be taken seriously. It sounds trivial, but maximizing the physical space your body takes up makes a substantial difference in how your audience reacts to you, regardless of your height.

5. Get ahold of yourself. When you move, move deliberately and precisely to a specific spot. Standing tall is an especially good way to project strength because it doesn’t interfere with warmth in the way that other signals of strength do.

These strategies may seem awkward but they will create a positive feedback with those you influence. Once you establish warmth, your strength is received as a welcome reassurance. Your ability to influence will then become a gift that not many possess.

Until next time, BE INSPIRED!

Dr. Inspiration

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