Without trust, there is no influence. If you’ve ever wanted to be heard, get that promotion or become a better salesperson, here are some tools that can help you become more valuable to those you wish to influence
In his new monthly column for BCBusiness, branding expert Ben Baker shares his insights into how to communicate value effectively, so people want to listen and engage. In the end, it’s about creating influence through trust.
We all want to be listened to, understood, valued and engaged with. That’s part of what makes us human. But have you noticed that some people are more effective than others at getting their voice heard and their opinion shared? That is influence, and it doesn’t come easily or quickly. Influence is built on trust, and trust is a valuable commodity. It’s hard to acquire, easy to lose and almost impossible to re-acquire.
We’ve all heard the expression “Don’t you trust me?” People use it to deflect concerns and compel other to act. But let’s be honest: the more you hear that expression, the less trustworthy the person seems.
So how do you create influence through trust? There’s no magic formula, but here are some ideas that may help you achieve your goals.
1. Actively listen
I can’t emphasize how important listening is when trying to develop trust. Listening goes way beyond hearing the sounds that come from another person. It’s taking the time to understand the viewpoint of others, empathizing with them and asking relevant questions for clarification. When people feel that they’re listened to, they’re more likely to value the opinion of the person they're speaking to.
Empathy is different from sympathy. It assumes that you understand someone else’s viewpoint; it doesn’t assume that you’ll always agree with them. Empathy, through the active listening process, enables you to understand their point of view, reference points, challenges and concerns. Only by understanding the frame of reference of the person that you are engaging can you help to solve their problems. Knowing that you are empathetic gives people reason to trust, permitting them to listen to your viewpoint and possibly heed your advice.
3. Be consistent
As humans, we need to be consistent wherever and whenever we engage with others. Whether face-to-face, on the phone or through social media, if how we act is not consistent with what we say, then trust can be broken. Too many people say things and then act differently, or have one persona on social media and another one when you meet them. People do notice! Take the time and evaluate whether what you say and how you act is consistent across the board. If it isn’t, you have found a major challenge to your ability to be influential.
4. Give before you get
We all want things from other people—that’s part of human nature. The issue is if you’re consistently looking for something from others before you reciprocate, and the people who you are trying to influence want and do the same, then nothing will ever happen.
“Giver’s gain” is a useful expression used by many groups, including Business Networking International. They realize that only through providing value to others first will people want to reciprocate. The “what’s in it for me?” gene runs deep through most of us, but if you can add value to others’ lives, they’ll be far more receptive to listening to you and reciprocating.
5. Show people WHY you can help them
Simon Sinek is famous for saying, “Start with why.” The premise is that if people understand why a process, a widget or a program will help them and solve their issues, they’ll be far more apt to listen, perceive it as valuable and want to engage. No one cares about facts and figures; they want to know how their issues can be solved. You can explain that by understanding and communicating why and how you can help them.
Is this list exhaustive? Not even close. It’s a way to start exploring what makes you unique and what problems you can solve for others—and communicating all that effectively so people listen and engage.
Take the time to build influence through trust. Relationships will be deeper, you’ll develop champions for your brand, and your opinions will have greater weight, no matter what the situation.
To your success.
Ben Baker is the author of Powerful Personal Brands: A Hands-on Guide to Understanding Yours and provides workshops, keynotes and consulting on effective communication inside and outside the company, as well as branding and brand strategy. He believes that every brand needs to stop acting like a commodity and instead be one worth loving.
Ben writes regularly online for Insurance Nerds, BCBusiness, Influential People Magazine, PPB Magazine and Business Unplugged with Carol Roth. He’s also the host of the iHeart Radio syndicated Your Living Brand show, which airs every Wednesday at 10 a.m. PST.