Making an impact often involves being able to influence other people to help you achieve your goals or dreams. This is true whether you are in a leadership position or in everyday interactions with family, friends and colleagues.

Motivating other people is not about power or control, but about making progress and achieving your goals in a positive, interactive way – persuading people that they want to help you rather than them feeling that they have no choice. We’re going to explore how you can start to do this by splitting the topic into five key areas:

  1. Push and pull
  2. Gaining trust
  3. Honesty, clarity and authenticity
  4. Body language
  5. Positivity

These five areas show that being able to influence other people involves many different skills and techniques. They can all be practised in order to make you a dynamic, trustworthy individual who can have an impact on others. Let’s look at these categories in a bit more depth.


1) Push and pull

Techniques for influencing people can generally be split into two categories: push and pull. Understanding the difference between push and pull influencing and knowing when to use each is vital if you want to achieve your goals.

Push influencing essentially means getting people to do what you want, and generally, it provides short-term rather than long-term solutions. Push techniques include:

  • Setting rules – people are more likely to do something if they don’t want to break the rules or be punished.
  • Making exchanges – this means motivating people by offering something else in return.
  • Assertion – this means asking someone to do something in a polite, assertive way, making it difficult for them to refuse.

On the other hand, pull influencing is about making people want to change because they think it is the best thing for them. This can be extremely effective when it’s done sincerely. Pull techniques include:

  • Personal magnetism – having charm and being respected by others is a powerful tool when trying to influence them.
  • Visioning – this involves describing a vision of something that people want in order to encourage them to do something.
  • Environmental change – this means changing the physical or emotional environment in order to encourage a change in behaviour.

Whilst pull techniques are more likely to give positive long-term solutions, EtonX’s Making an Impact course shows that both kinds of technique are required at different times depending on who you are working with and what you are trying to achieve.

2) Gaining trust

Of course, in order to be able to succeed with pull techniques like personal magnetism and visioning, one thing is needed above all – trust. Trust is vital for interacting with and influencing others. If someone doesn’t trust you or what you say, why would they ever feel motivated or enthusiastic about what you are asking them to think or do?

Charles H. Green has explored what is needed in order to build trust in his book, The Trusted Advisor. He says that trust requires:

  • Credibility – this is all about looking and sounding as if we know what we’re talking about, as well as having qualifications and experience which make us credible.
  • Reliability – this takes much longer to develop and involves demonstrating that we do what we say we’ll do over a long period of time.
  • Intimacy – this is the most difficult of all to build and requires the ability to talk about difficult topics sensitively.

Each of these is vital when building trust with others. If you can do this successfully, it not only makes it easier to motivate and influence them but also allows you to do so in a more positive and fruitful way.


3) Honesty, clarity and authenticity

Gaining trust in order to influence others can also be helped by displaying attractive personal qualities. Julian Treasure’s inspiring TED talk on how to speak so that people want to listen provides some great examples of these. He talks about the importance of:

  • Honesty – this one seems obvious, but it’s amazing how dishonest we can be in order to make our lives easier, to avoid difficult conversations for example. Saying what we really feel in a respectful way is vital when we want people to trust and listen to us.
  • Clarity – sometimes we find ourselves couching what we say in apologies or vague generalities in order to avoid the point. It is important to be as clear and direct as possible when interacting with others if we want them to listen.
  • Authenticity – people can easily spot a fake. Being true to yourself, while remaining sensitive and respectful, inspires confidence and respect in others.

These qualities are equally beneficial when using push or pull techniques – in every situation, people are much more likely to respond positively to someone with these personal characteristics because they will respect them and they inspire confidence.


4) Body language

Who we are, what we do, and what we say are central when it comes to motivating and influencing others, but how we do and say things is also crucial. This is where body language comes in.

Using body language effectively can both give you authority, convey sincerity and put other people at ease when you are communicating with them. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Have a firm handshake – this is a classic tip for a reason. Always stand up and keep your hand straight when shaking someone’s hand. Make sure that your grip is firm but not aggressive.
  • Make eye contact – the Evenesis blog has explored how central eye contact is to human communication. Use it to engage others and show that you are really interested in what they have to say.
  • Smile – it’s amazing what a difference a smile can make. While there are obviously times when it would be inappropriate to smile, in general smiling can relax people and increase trust.


5) Positivity

This final piece of advice is very simple, and it’s threaded through all the different categories above: be positive.

Right at the start of this article, we established that influencing others is not about power or control. These are negative qualities which make other people feel small. In order to use pull influencing, gain trust, be ourselves and achieve our goals, we need to aim to make all our actions and interactions as positive as possible. This means making the person we are speaking to feel more confident rather than less and involves everything from the language you use to whether or not you smile.

Crucially, positivity is responded to with positivity; people who feel happy are much more motivated and likely to be inspired. When asking someone to do something, focus on the positive benefits rather than the potential negative consequences if they refuse. When pitching an idea, emphasise its great qualities rather than criticising other people’s plans. This not only makes other people feel better, but it enhances your ability to succeed and bring your team-mates with you.

If you want to learn more about motivating and influencing others in order to achieve your goals and make an impact in life, then check out EtonX’s “Making in Impact” course. On the course you can get even more tips and ideas as well as the chance to practise these skills through interactive exercises and online group work.