Influencing People

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves” – Carl Jung

Influencing people is a critical skill to have, without it one cannot be a leader.
Although having direct authority over people is certainly an advantage, there will be numerous instances when you will have no authority over people and yet
you will need their help. In this brief article I talk about how to influence people.

– Be clear about what you want, have purpose. There should be a vision of what you want to accomplish and how you would like to accomplish it.
If you have are able to articulate your vision it is easier to influence people. Say you want a VP to sponsor a project of yours.
There is a higher chance of the VP sponsoring your project if he/she thinks that you have a goal and a path to your goal.

– Be confident about achieving your goal. Demonstrate discipline and determination.
Men and women with charisma have an intense belief in what they are doing. Courage demonstrates your faith in your purpose.
This will also make it easy for you to influence people. If you show courage, people you want to influence are likely to support you.

– Listen genuinely. Many of us are just waiting for our turn to speak.
After someone speaks, pause for a few moments, so they know you are paying attention, don’t start to speak immediately.
You may be eager to voice your ideas and not listen to others, but take feedback seriously. If the person who you are trying to influence
notices that you are taking their advice seriously, you are more likely to get their support.

– Earn the respect of those you are trying to influence through domain knowledge.
You can influence others if they perceive you as experts on the things you are talking about.
Nothing beats being the expert on a subject matter. If you are an SME on building rockets, and you plan on building a new rocket, it will be
easier for you to get funding that someone who is new to the field.

– Develop a pattern of successful execution. This will also enable you to influence others.
If you have worked on previous projects that have succeeded, people are more like to support you, since you have established a pattern of winning.

– People have different personalities, and you have to adapt your message to the personality for it to be effective.
Personalities are your values, emotions, motivations, beliefs, habits, attitude and more that people demonstrate.
The Myers & Briggs foundation ( offers one explanation to the different types of personalities. It has proven helpful to me
in influencing people. For instance, there are people who are “feelers” and then they are people who are “thinkers”.
Thinker’s value data over interaction, feelers value interaction over everything else.
Use your knowledge of how a person is to interact with him/her in a manner consistent with their personality.

– Be self-aware. How we see ourselves in the mirror matters. Quite often we think different of ourselves than what others perceive.
If we are able to better understand what others think of us, we can learn from that and thereby build our influence.

– Last, but not the least emphasize a common goal.
If people think that you are going in the same direction as them, you are more likely to get support.