Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Read People and Influence Them

Becoming a person of influence in your team, and getting things done is an achievable skill.

In fact, it’s a well used tool-set used by those of the powerful and elite.

From celebrities to politicians, the most powerful people are masters at the art of influencing others into getting their desired outcomes.

And for these people, being easily manipulated or lied to is also hard to do, too. They can see when someone is trying it on.

Imagine for a Moment

You’re desperate to win support from your team to lead a improvement project.

If it works, you could transform how things are done across the whole business.

On a personal note, you’ll be richly rewarded with being the person that broke the mould.

The leader that delivered effective change.

A team that is harmonious.

A modern-day leader that everyone respects…

There is however, one small problem.

Getting the team to buy into your vision. They’re not too eager to get started…

Creators of Evolution

I’ve said it before, us humans are dynamic. You can’t just tell people to do something. You have to spark their enthusiasm. Gain their trust and commitment. Allow them time to internalise change before it happens.

There is a ton of science that will help you get what you want and to do it in an ethical way.

The fact is, we have all evolved.

Although most of us don’t live in caves any more and don’t hunt for our food, our natural instinct is still there.

We still communicate with our body language.

We still get influenced by certain things which tap into our primitive sub conscious. And when this happens, we can influence people to see our side and to follow our lead.

Becoming a Person of Influence: The 6 Skills of Persuasion and Leadership

The truth is, I don’t like the term “Manipulation.” It sounds underhanded. And whilst many people who master these skills can use it for the wrong reasons, we can still use it for the right reasons too.

And if you want to be seen as the leader that everyone loves, then always influence, empower and communicate. Don’t manipulate on its own, as you’ll eventually get found out.

And if you’re a believer in “what goes around, comes around”, then use these techniques for the right reasons!

I digress.

Anyway, to read and persuade people successfully, you must nurture these 6 skill sets:

They are:

  1. Master Sub Textual Communication
  2. Logical Thinking (Not Emotional Decisions)
  3. Develop Wit
  4. Master Emotional Intelligence
  5. Cold Read People
  6. Make it a Habit

6 steps to being an influential leader

Becoming a Person of Influence: Step 1 – Master sub textual communication

Mastering sub textual communication simply means: understanding people’s words and actions on multiple levels.

The Lips say yes; the Body Says No

Picture this example:

Sarah looks at you, nodding her head in agreement, “Sure I’ll do that for you. No problem.”

You walk away, happy that you have a great team member, who’s willing to just get things done…

What you failed to pick up on was that her entire body language was saying something else.

If only you knew how to read everything she was saying (including her non verbal cues), you’ll know that perhaps she’s not that impressed with doing the task… and that it was just mere lip service she was giving you.

Her arms were crossed. She was looking away at the side. Her legs were crossed. She touched her nose a few times, too. 

You didn’t see it. You were too involved in what you had to say. 

These are sub texts.

They’re the things that are not said. They’re the hidden meaning behind the words.

Communication is Multi-layered

Communication consists of words and body language. Body language can be broken down into many different elements.

The point is, you need to understand what is said, what’s truly meant and what may be implied.

We can often say things but deep down mean something else.

In order to really understand your team, you need to know your team members on an individual level. When you do, you can get them to open up to you and build rapport.

Practice Sub Text Communication

Practice this: Try to analyse the people around you. Take notice of their words and also their actions. Not all actions will follow what they say…

Identify what their values are and what drives them. What gets them motivated and energised?

Once you understand this, try to predict their future moves in a scenario that you’re focused on. For instance, how will they react to the news you’ll present to them?

What about that change project. Given you know their values, what would you expect them to say and do?

Just like a poker player studies their opponent’s every move; with every bluff and every round, they build up a picture of that person’s sub context behaviour.

They start to understand how that player thinks and reacts (even if it’s very subtly).

And when that picture’s built up, they can accurately predict their opponents next move. Here’s neat video on Youtube to show you the power of its effect.

Write down your team members’ names and specify what they value.

For example, a kind-hearted person may value honesty and integrity. They may well despise manipulators and underhandedness.

Consequently, a loud extrovert may value an introverted person, because they feel that they listen acutely to them. They could despise other extroverts who talk over them.

When you understand what makes people tick, you can influence them and lead them more effectively.

And when you understand how you tick, too, you can identify how you can be manipulated. This means that you can be a much stronger leader of people.

Becoming a Person of Influence: Step 2 – Think More logically Instead of emotionally

People who are good at reading people, express a good level of self-control. They don’t easily become emotional.

The truth is that when we’re emotional, we’re often irrational.

We can’t think straight. Our judgement is hampered.

People who are logical, are calmer. And they’re open minded to facts. To logic. To reasoning.

They’re also closed minded to opinions.

And through being calm and level headed, they’re not easily manipulated.

To practice this, instead of becoming angry, fearful or lashing out at someone, calm yourself down.

If you need to take a breather to calm down, do so. Tell that person that you need 15 minutes to gather your thoughts. Stay calm.

Practice mindfulness. Don’t act impulsively.

This might be hard to do at first, but with practice, it will allow you to make the right decisions and stay in control of conversations and discussions.

Being emotional opens up greater chances of you making poor judgements, and a loss of self-control, and consequently, poor decisions.

Here’s an eight week plan from Amazon to help you develop mindfulness and stay balanced.

Becoming a Person of Influence: Step 3: Wit and Sharpness

People test each other through trials and psychological ambushes.

For example, a team member can test your confidence and insecurities by making a remark about your poor decision making or lack of leadership effectiveness… or giving you questions that put you in a bad light.

Politicians and celebrities frequently get questioned by interviewers, to demean their characters.

Here’s a great way to bat negative rhetoric back. It’s about re-framing, and Min Lui from Art of Verbal War, explains it in this short video.

When wit isn’t developed, it can cast you in a negative light. However, if you’re skilled in this art, the attack can be deflected or counterattacked to boost your social value and effectiveness.

Practice this by getting into lighthearted banter with your friends, or get into more debates with people.

Observe how seasoned professionals do it, like celebrities and politicians.

Being able to deflect and maintain your course is a key skill to have.

Don’t allow negativity to steamroller you and your team’s progress.

Someone once told me, “Some will, some won’t, so what.” He meant that some people will like me; some people won’t, and that’s just life.

With those that try to be critical or trip you up, you need to have a sharp wit to keep cool and deflect these subtle attacks.

You’ll gain a lot more respect and following by demonstrating a strong trait of wit.

Becoming a Person of Influence: Step 4 – Emotional Intelligence

Empathy is very important to develop emotional intelligence.

You must be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes.

You must be able to think what they think and feel how they feel… and see things from their perspective.

This way, you can embrace all their views.

People with low empathy cannot do this, as they can only think from their point of view.

When you master this, you have immense power because you can understand what the other person thinks and how they feel.

6Seconds.org provides a good start in building your emotional intelligence.

Becoming a Person of Influence: Step 5 – Cold Reading

You can practice this by gathering information on a person and then making a theory as to what you’ve rationalised about them. You can then find out from that person that what you’ve rationalised, is true or not.

It’s ok to make mistakes. You learn from them.

It’s important to gather enough information before you make a theory, because when you first make a theory without enough data, your assumption won’t be reliable.

Here’s a video example of it in perfection…

Therefore, you must have enough information about someone to make an accurate assessment.

Having the ability to make accurate generalisations about a person, without even psychologically probing them, gives you a massive psychological advantage over someone who’s untrained at reading of non-verbal cues.

A good book to learn cold reading is “What everybody is saying, by Joe Navarro.” An Ex FBI Agent’s guide to speed reading people.

Becoming a Person of Influence: Step 6 – Make it a Habit

Reading people requires constant analysis and calibration. Every interaction you experience, should have meaning to it.

And by this I mean that in your conversations, you should be mindful of the moment. Sum people up and collect information on them, so you can better understand their nature.

What are their true intentions?

How do they typically respond to situations?

What do they value?

What are their triggers?

How do they use their body language to communicate and what are their natural ticks which may give the game away?

The more you understand, the more you can calibrate your own demeanour to their tastes. And by doing this, you can influence them naturally, through rapport and suggestion.

You can successfully build deeper rapport with them and create a relationship with a diverse range of characters.

Charm is necessary for comfort and comfort is necessary for trust. And without trust, your options and leadership effectiveness are limited.

To practice this, when you’re meeting someone, subtly mirror their behaviours.

Remember, the fastest way to get trust from someone is to mirror them.

Blake Eastman goes further to say, forget about trying to mirror someone but watch them mirror your actions. When this happens, you know they’re in sync with you. And when they’re in sync, it’s easier to influence them to do what you want. They’ve developed rapport.

The fact is, our world does revolve around us. We’re the stars of our own stories. Likewise, people tend to love themselves and their own beliefs.

And when you are a reflection of them, they will develop an affinity towards you. When this happens, they’ll become comfortable and open up.

For example, you wouldn’t act around teenagers, the same way you would around older people, perhaps.

You should always adjust your behaviour to the group of people you’re interacting with.

And when you have established yourself within the group, you can then direct and influence them as you please.

Stay in the Moment

This means that you have to stay in the moment at all times.

Lead your teams by understanding how each team member ticks.

Use data, fact and logic to make decisions.

Don’t get embroiled in emotional decisions and discussions. By doing this, you’re not staying in control and you’re definitely not in your head. Keep charge of the conversation and situation.

You also need to practice good emotional intelligence. Genuinely pay an interest in your team. Build rapport and allow them to open up.

Influencing your team and getting them to follow your lead. To agree with your decisions. To blindly have faith in your ideas, will come when you practice the 6 step framework to being a person of influence with your team.

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