Written by: Dale Halm, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Research reveals you will influence almost 10,000 people in your lifetime. Think about it, 10,000 chances to make an impact on others. How many of your interactions will be constructive? How many will be detrimental? This is your one life; the stakes are high. Paying attention to how you present yourself is a vital step toward being your personal best. This article explores five things you can do to become more intentional about how you show up and how you can significantly increase your influence capability.
The Britannica Dictionary defines influence as the power to change or affect someone or something. This covers a lot of ground. There are many aspects to being an effective influencer, including leading by example, being consistent, and inspiring others. The key question is, what is at the core of being an exceptional influencer? Here are five essential practices you need to understand and apply to take your influence potential to the next level.
1. Acknowledge Your Blind Spots
Based on my work with over one thousand clients over two decades, I have observed a common leadership deficiency. It’s a blind spot that you don’t understand well, often because you don’t want to know or admit the truth about it. The blind spot is leaders often fail to pay attention to their personal impact. They think they do; they say they do. However, observe them on the job or in their private life, and you’ll see they aren’t very mindful of the effect they have on others. How about you? Do you command attention, or are you seen in ways that turn people off? Do you come across as knowledgeable, aloof, or arrogant? Others might see you as verbose or indifferent. Acknowledging your blind spot helps you embrace the concept of personal impact.
2. Focus On Your Personal Impact
Personal impact, the term sounds a bit awkward, doesn’t it? Yet it’s one of the most potent characteristics of effective influencers. Personal impact is just that, how you personally impact others or circumstances. It is aware of your presence, how you come across − how your conduct affects others. This is a reality check most people avoid. The common belief is, “you got this.” The truth is “not so much.” Think of the last time you were in a crucial conversation with someone or a group of people.
Were you fully there, 100% focused on what was being discussed? Were you poised under pressure? Did you communicate clearly and concisely? Did you radiate positive energy others could feel? These questions reflect your degree of presence.
How would others judge your behavior? What is your behavioral style? Are you direct or indirect? Are you task or relationship-oriented? Are you able to adjust the way you conduct yourself in real-time to effectively deal with adverse circumstances? These questions indicate how others interpret your performance.
Personal impact is the portal to building fulfilling relationships. This is the starting line to being a more successful influencer. Get serious about it. Start being more deliberate about how you come across to others. No matter what your position, level of education, or expertise, what really makes you stand out is how well you influence and collaborate with others.
When you exhibit positive personal impact, you are approachable, not standoffish. You are easy to do business with. You project a can-do attitude. You speak from the heart with conviction. If you need to tell someone something or follow through on a promise, you do it. You avoid behaviors such as: being defensive, cynicism, talking about yourself incessantly, being a naysayer, complaining, or overreacting.
3. Honor Your Commitments
Personal impact is predicated on honoring your commitments. How often have you heard about the importance of keeping your word? Hundreds of times? Yet, what percentages of the promises that you make (I’ll get back to you on that, I’ll have it done by Friday, etc.) do you really keep? How would others rate you on this? Guess what? They are rating you. If you don’t think your personal impact is crucial to your effectiveness, think again.
When you do what you say, you will do you build trust with others. They see you as dependable and respect you. You develop a reputation as someone who can be counted on. That’s influence! When you don’t keep promises, the impact you make on others is questionable. They hesitate to seek your advice. Your sincerity and even your leadership ability come into question.
People who demonstrate high levels of personal impact hold themselves and others accountable for agreements made. They avoid blame and demonstrate an absence of victim mentality. Personal impact is about how you interact with others and how they experience you.
4. Self-Reflection: The Game Changer
Socrates, the founder of Western Philosophy, said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Regularly taking time to reflect on how you show up is one of the best things you can do to enhance your influence capabilities. Spending a few moments to objectively (as best you can) think about your behaviors can dramatically increase your awareness of the impact you make on others and circumstances. Simply ask yourself the following questions.
What can I learn from this experience?
Am I being a victim by blaming others or circumstances?
Am I being responsible for how my behavior affects others?
How are my actions (positive or negative) contributing to the situation?
How do I need to adjust my behavior to be more effective?
5. Respond Versus React
As you go through the days and weeks ahead, you will encounter all types of situations that present opportunities to demonstrate a positive personal impact. Taking charge of these moments will help you become a better influencer.
First, be aware. Your trigger is a sense of discomfort. Something isn’t right (an argument is brewing, emotions are soaring, frustration is mounting, etc.). That’s your trigger. How will you choose to respond? Whether you are dealing with a difficult circumstance or trying to resolve an interpersonal conflict, you need to realize you have a choice.
Second, will you choose to respond in a reactive or proactive manner? When people are reactive, they are overly emotional and avoid taking responsibility for their behavior. They tend to feel powerless or resentful and find fault with others. They focus on what’s wrong. They exaggerate things.
When you choose to respond proactively, you take responsibility by viewing challenges as opportunities and exhibit a let’s-make-this-work mindset. This enables you to take the initiative to clear up misunderstandings and focus on solving problems instead of avoiding them. The result is that you make a positive, powerful impact on whatever situation you are experiencing.
The bottom line is that how you come across matters. When you embrace personal impact as a cornerstone to success, you step up to the profound realization that you and you alone oversee how effectively you influence others.
Dale Halm, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Dale Halm is the Founder of Dale Halm Consulting, LLC. He has held leadership positions for a Fortune 500 company and has contributed significantly to record-setting start-up operations resulting in multi-million dollar cost savings. Dale's extensive experience includes various training and organization development roles at Intel, Freescale (NXP), and Arizona Public Service Company. He is the author of The Excellence Agenda and specializes in transforming workplaces and maximizing human potential. Dale has been a speaker at numerous conferences and holds both a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts from Northern Illinois University.