425. Expert Interview: Two Main Reasons People Fail to Influence Others
Dirk Van Loon
Dirk Van Loon is a passionate entrepreneur, coach, and transformation expert based in Belgium. His expertise lies in multiple fields, including conflict resolution and transition management. His consulting company has helped others achieve their business goals for more than a decade. With stable growth as the primary goal, Dirk and his team have guided and supported countless individuals and organizations through the challenges of ever-growing competition and the increasing pressure to perform. Dirk has held leadership positions at Nike, Atlas Copco, Bare International and many other companies.
Two Reasons People Fail to Influence Others
“I’m convinced influence is teachable. Many people think it’s a gift from nature, like charisma. But if you can master some skill sets, you will be able to master the ability to influence people. There are two main reasons we fail to influence others:
- Many people hold the false belief that influence comes automatically, that it goes with the territory of an office or position.
- Many think influence is only contextual and only needed at certain times and in certain settings. The reality of influence, however, is that it is more holistic and springs from character.”
Why Is This Important?
“We tend to think influence is about getting what we want. That’s a classic way people often think about influence. The negative word for this is manipulation. Manipulation generates the idea, the fear of scarcity. When scarcity becomes part of the situation, people fear they will lose something, and they start protecting their interests. They become less willing to work with you because they feel threatened.”
What Are the Key Lessons Learned Here?
The two erroneous beliefs cited above about influence explain why we are often unable to exert influence on others, Dirk explains. “My experience tells me there are six factors that are crucial to gaining influence and exercising it effectively:
1) Awareness of others, their needs, wants and the realities they face. This includes, whenever possible, an awareness of factors that are ‘under the radar’ and may not have surfaced.
2) Presence: the ability to be present to others, in the moment. There is power in the gift of being fully present to others.
3) Generosity: a perfect antidote to defensiveness and feelings of scarcity, that there is not enough power and influence to go around. To be effective, generosity cannot be offered only when you want something. That’s called manipulation.
4) Value: expressed as a recognition of the value of others and of what they value in the specific situation and in life.
5) Character: living out of a core set of values that elicits respect from others.
6) Consistency in words and deeds. This inspires confidence in your trustworthiness and an openness to be influenced by you.”
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