Influence is power. If you can influence others, you have power over them because you can change their behaviour. People will do things for you because they like and trust you. The more you increase your influence, the more you can effect change in yourself and others.
5 ways to increase your influence
1. Pursue integrity, not power
Power is like happiness. You can want it for its own sake, but that is not how it is gotten. Happiness is a by-product of a life filled with purpose and love. Power is a by-product of character and integrity.
Integrity means having values and living according to those values. Decide what kind of person you want to be. Have a clear set of values, like a personal creed. Live by these values every single minute of every single day, so that you can look yourself in the mirror and hold your head high knowing that you stood for something today. You will feel an enormous sense of power, because your character is whole.
This is the kind of integrity that people feel when they are around you, without you having to speak a single word. Your entire being sends vibes that can be felt by others. People will somehow know that they can trust you. This trust will increase your influence with them.
2. Walk your talk
To have influence, you have to be congruent. Your words and your deeds have to match. If you tell your children that they need discipline to succeed in life, but they see you rushing to work late every morning, they will believe in neither discipline nor you.
Walking the talk is the surest way to increase your influence. People around you will notice you picking up litter on the ground and throwing it into the nearest rubbish bin. This simple action will speak louder than hours of you lecturing on the need to preserve the environment.
“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
3. Make others feel good about themselves
Your influence increases inversely to your self-importance. What this means is that if you seek attention and approval from others, you have very little influence over them. In fact, they have enormous power over you because a simple word or gesture and affect your mood for the entire day.
When you have a healthy self-esteem and do not need to feel important and noticed all the time, you are free to notice others and make them feel important. You make people feel important simply by noticing them. Greet them by name. Ask “how are you today?” then wait for the answer and really listen.
4. Know when to use your influence
Influence is like a bank account. You need to constantly make deposits to make it grow. And if you use too much of it, the account empties. Use your influence sparingly. Don’t waste it on things that don’t matter, or ask for favours when you can do it yourself. Don’t use it for your selfish purposes when it doesn’t benefit the other person.
If you have influence over someone, you won’t need to look for him to tell him what to do. He will come to you for perspective and advice. This is the right time to exercise your influence. If you feel the need to approach the person, be very clear and honest about what your motives are.
5. Remain humble
True power is humbling. When you realise that you have influence over another person, you will feel an enormous responsibility to use your influence for the other person’s good. You will weigh your words carefully before speaking, because you know that the other person will likely follow your advice, for better or worse.
The moment you cherish power for its own sake, you have lost power over yourself and will quickly lose influence with others. Remember that everything you have is a gift from a higher power, and is merely on loan to you while you live in this world.