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Serve To Lead 4 Change

The only constant in life is change, and the rate of change is increasing. With today's pace of change, there is an increasing nee...

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Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behaviour, not because they won or lost. The award for heroic behaviour is the right to admiration, which is earned through influence.

Influence is highly debatable, as we are all dealt with different cards when we came into this world. We tend to underestimate the role luck has played in our lives being fooled by randomness. From a genetic perspective, if you are of African descendence your chances of winning the 100 meter Olympics and marathons are significantly higher.

In recent times, gender equality has been discussed. However, gender diversity is of more importance as men and women are not born equals. Human beings came into civilisation being hunter-gatherers, of which men were more inclined to be hunters and women as gatherers naturally due to our physique. We have come a long way since, yet embracing our born selves is the path to influence as we will discuss in this article.

Let's first define the 2 building blocks of which influence is built upon:

1) Strength = capacity to shape the world = Respect

We see strength in terms of skill and will.

  • Does this person seem capable and competent?
  • Does this person seem determined and willful?

2) Warmth = shared affinity and interests = Liking

We see warmth in terms of shared concerns or interests.

  • Does this person care about people like me?
  • Does this person share my outlook on the world?

Men by design project more strength than women. Women by design project more warmth than men. Being born tall will result in more strength being projected, having a round face will project more warmth. This occurs by chance, as we do not get to choose our gender or height nor the way our face is shaped. As such, we must seek to balance the elements of which we are dealt with by using choice to influence the way we are perceived.

Our sense of style and dressing plays an important role in perception. This is why we wear suits to business presentations, to inspire confidence and establish trust through strength. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to decide if you will need to project more strength or warmth. Wearing red projects boldness, building strength. Wearing blue projects stability, building warmth. Choose your wardrobe well, take pride in the way you dress and carry yourself.

The tone of our communication is crucial in building influence. Being able to command strength and warmth in written communication is of utmost importance in our increasingly digital world. Emails tend to be reread and perceived from the tone of communication, as readers try to understand the motivation and “hidden” meaning which may exist. Do not take anything at face value, as matters can be communicated in many different manners and styles. When you write your next business email, make sure you double check it to see if it could be perceived in an unintended manner. At the end of the day, business is about building trust.

Body language requires active awareness to understand implied communication. People operating on autopilot tend to emit signals which may contradict the words they say. Actions speak louder than words. Try being mindful of your movements and move with a sense of purpose. That urge you feel to touch your nose may just be you feeling prideful at the moment, and not some random itch. Soldiers are able to march with a sense of purpose without making any random movements for hours in the burning sun. When you feel the itch, take it as a message from your subconscious mind and act only when you intend to communicate… that’s being mindful.

The ability to connect and building lasting relationships is the cornerstone of warmth. Connecting with others can be as simple as greeting “Good Morning!” to your fellow colleagues and remembering birthdays. People enjoy being acknowledged, we can all attest to that. Sustainable influence, business and loyalty are built through giving and taking, as opposed to just taking and taking. If you expect others to be kind towards you, why don’t take the initiative to be kind to others. So smile. :)

The most important sound in the world to any person is their name. Remembering names projects warmth. When someone introduces themselves to you, ensure you listen actively to the way they say it and say it in the exact same manner. A common pitfall in not remembering names at the inception of relationships is due to our minds wandering of how would we like to introduce ourselves to the other person, which can be avoided if we are attentive. We can leverage on our mobile devices to store our contacts with notes to ensure it is retrievable the next time we meet them, in case our memories fail us in chance encounters. Computers are after all better at remembering, which we can leverage upon.

Passive-aggressive behaviour destroys both strength and warmth in influence. If you are unhappy about something, whining nor speaking behind a person’s back will not resolve the issue. Direct feedback may potentially resolve differences and inspire both strength and warmth, as both parties grow and benefit together. Arrange a feedback session, provide your constructive and appreciative feedback to the other person. Being direct in feedback is more efficient and effective, as opposed to passive-aggressive or indirect feedback.

What strategies do you use to project strength and warmth?

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