Debrief: Influence Redefined
I share my experiences with my team whenever I attend training. The training are not just for me, but for my team. If they know about the content of the training, they can also hold me accountable for my learning.
This article covers my experience reading/listening to the book and the half day training offered by the author’s company. If you have any questions about this or anything else, you can email or tweet me.
Although this article is my learning, you will learn about the book, Influence Redefined, and the half-day training for it. This article should take you less than six minutes to read.
What is influence? How do you define influence? Who do you know that is influential?
From the dictionary, the definition of influence is:
Influence - noun - the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself
This aligns with my understanding of influence and observations. An influential person can change others. A person is either influential or they are ineffective.
The author of Influence Redefined, Stacey Hankey, recommends a better definition for the modern world. Her definition of influence is:
How one make others feel through their interactions.
This definition makes me rethink what the influential person does to change others. Influence still changes others, Stacey’s definition demystifies influence. What really happens when one is influential? How can someone be influential?
The dictionary may be correct, it offers no clue as to how to be influential. At the same time, Stacey’s definition aligns with other popular influential material, such as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Drivers of Influence
In the book, the author presents different drivers of influence, each of these builds influence. These are:
Each level is a foundation for the next, like a pyramid:
Self awareness is at the base of the model, keep this in mind as you read the article.
Monday to Monday
The author also explains that one needs to practice influence Monday to Monday. We are influencing all the time, with every interaction we have.
Continuous practice is key to improving your influence.
Influence is Dial
One question came up in my team debriefing:
If one is practicing their influence Monday to Monday, well, what about weekends? What about when I am with friends? What about the times when I don’t want to be influential??
That would be thinking about influence as an “on-off” light switch. I turn on my influence when needed.
Instead, from the training and book, think of influence as a dimmer light switch, one with a dial. The light is always ready to go and can be strong for situations that need it, but weak when situations do not require it.
A sports analogy is appropriate here. A team’s practice is always constant throughout the sports season. When there is an important game, the coach does not say:
OK there is a big game tomorrow, now we are going to really practice. The practice we did all season is not appropriate for the game tomorrow.
Influence requires constant practice. You don’t want to get caught trying to “step up your game” when needed. It’s better to always be on your A-game.
Elements of Influence
With the different drivers of influence, there is a development system, that consists of:
Each of these are crucial in improving your influence. Combining this system with the above, the full Influence Redefined model is:
How does all of these relate? How do you improve your influence?
Remember the base of this model is self-awareness. How to get feedback from self-awareness? Stacey recommends to record yourself. Watching yourself is the ultimate feedback.
From your own feedback, decide on items to practice on improving. In the book, she recommends posture, pauses, and eye connection.
This is a light overview of the book. I powered through the book at 3.5x speed and when writing this article, I realize that my retention was lower than expected. I only powered through it because of the upcoming training.
In the training, we learned the first steps to improving your influence is:
Improving your non-verbal communication
That’s the topic we focused on in our half-day training.
The three things we focused on:
- eye connection
Most communication happens non-verbally. Ever have the feeling: “I have heard the same idea, but this time it felt accepted.”
These non-verbal communication improvements build our influence in the first two tiers of the Influence Redefined model: self-awareness and consistency.
The way one stands or sits affects their influence. If one was standing and speaking like this:
What would you think of their message? Would you take it seriously? If you were speaking to them? Would you believe they are listening to you?
This is one example where a posture affects your communication.
Having neutral postures helps improve communication.
The neutral standing posture consists of:
- shoulders back
- arms out
- hands out of pocket
- feet hip width apart
I found this to be close to my normal standing posture.
A neutral sitting posture would be:
- one hand on table
- never cross hands
- leaning forward when active
- reclining slightly when less active
I normally cross my hands when I don’t have anything else on the table with me. Keeping just a hand on the table avoids me from crossing them.
Sitting without Table
This came up after we practiced with each other: what to do when we are not sitting at a table? A table covers the lower half of your body. A table covers one’s legs, but one cannot do anything with their legs in a chair as they are sitting.
- put legs together to one side
- keep hands on lap
These postures are a base for one to return to. One would communicate this way with hand gestures, movement, facial expressions, etc. Always come back to home base so the gestures, movement, and expressions do not distract the listener from your message.
When speaking, have regular pauses to allow yourself to take a breath! If you are speaking too much, you run out of oxygen. When I run out of oxygen, I have a hard time thinking, let alone speaking!
The goal is to speak in full sentences that end in periods.
In addition to pauses, in your verbal communication avoid:
- “um”s and “ah”s
- Using filler words:
- “I think”
- Having long sentences that are connect with “and”.
- Never start a sentence with “but”
I found these hard to follow in my daily conversation. One thing I also found to help: take a pause before speaking in general. Give yourself time to formulate thoughts, then speak strategically instead of just “diving right in”.
The final aspect we worked on was “eye connection”. This is eye contact combined with pauses.
When speaking to others, establish eye contact. Maintain eye contact through a whole sentence until you reach a pause then, shift eye contact to another person.
Have a good amount of eye contact, a full sentence, but not a whole paragraph.
This is similar to a handshake. Too little and it doesn’t feel right, too much and it’s just overbearing.
Use your pauses to give you the just right amount of eye contact to create eye connection.
Practicing each of these with a partner recording me was enlightening. In my head, I always felt I always followed these rules, but my video doesn’t lie!
I have to practice pausing more, with a focus on less “um”s and filler words. Watching my recording of me practicing that gave me the worst feeling.
If that is the feeling I got from a brief clip, imagine if you had to listen to me all day long??
I am working on improving this!
The book definitely made me rethink what influence means today. The dictionary definition doesn’t line up perfectly in my observation of the world now. Stacey’s definition does make more sense to me now. She also gives steps to improving anyone’s level of influence.
I enjoyed the training. The three hours just flew by and I wanted more at the end. At the same time, I was pretty spent covering and practicing these three topics!
I wonder what the two day training would be like.