How to be more influential and gain peoples respect. It’s the year 324 BC, the army of Alexander the Great, has conquered much of the known world. And now, he has ordered some of his veterans to return home, but then the rest of the army tells him that they all wished to return home, to their wives and children.
In this moment, one of the greatest speeches in history will be spoken. “Who among you believes that he’s worked harder for me than I did for him? There isn’t one part of my body, the fist at least, that doesn’t bear a wound. I have scars from every weapon you can think of! All for the sake of your lives, your glory, and your wealth! And yet here I, still leading you, as the conqueror of land and sea, rivers and mountains. And now, I wanted to send back some of you who’ve been wounded or crippled or have grown old, to be welcomed back home as heroes. But since all of you wish to go, go! Go home, and tell your family that Alexander, who conquered the world, has been abandoned by you as you went home.”
This is just a fraction of the essence of the speech, as captured by Arian. After the speech, all of the armies asked for forgiveness, and Alexander started planning the next conquests. His great power, influence, and skills gave an entire army the energy and the willingness to once again fight, and conquer. This is an important moment of history, and it can’t really be replicated today.
The speech is a great example of the power of influence and persuasion. A few weeks ago, I returned home after a long day and turned on the TV. The TV was on the news channel, and a politician was talking to the press about some of the goals of his political party. And I couldn’t help but notice how convincing he was.
I started asking myself “how can people achieve that much influence?” The immediate answer was that he was a politician, and as a result, he has a certain level of influence and charisma. But if you really think about it, you don’t gain influence when you become a politician, you need the influence to become one in the first place.
And when you’re in a group and look around, there’s always someone that looks, sounds, or acts differently, and no matter what they do, it seems that there’s always someone ready to follow them. Then, obviously, there are social media influencers that are paid thousands of dollars just to post certain things on social media.
So, influence isn’t all about charisma and communication, there are certain things that you can do to make yourself more influential and powerful. You can easily become skilled at managing people and influencing buying decisions and even entire markets. And Since being influential is nothing more than a skill, It can be learned. With practice, you can learn, and master it.
There are people out there who are naturals at this, but most of us are not, and if you want to be more influential, there are certain things that you can start doing today to rise above the average guy and influence more people.
So, back to a few weeks ago: I’m in front of the TV, and I see all these great speakers and presenters, charming the audience as if they had a spell over them. I thought it was rather ridiculous, until I noticed my friend Andrew being charmed by the same people on the Television. It’s really amazing if you think about it, the way in which politicians and motivational speakers and so on… can influence crowds and tap into people’s emotions so that they buying into their ideas, and dreams. It’s kind of a super power of you think about it.
How they use just the right words to get you feeling a certain way, and blended with their smile and body gestures they convince you into buying into there vision. So it got curious and I start doing some research on the topic. After analyzing information from different sources, here’s what I found. The first thing I learned is:
1. Believe In Yourself
Being influential means having the trust of other people. So people need to think of you as a genuine, honest person, that acts coherently to his beliefs and acts based on his own opinions, not anyone else’s, while still being open to critics.
You see, only confident people are strong enough to accept their mistakes, and accordingly people love this. Because every single person has flaws, and a person who can own up to is seen in high regards by people.
Also, if you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect anyone else to believe in you? You need to look at yourself in the mirror and say “I got this!”, whatever it is you’re doing. When you approach things with calm and confidence, you are more likely to do your best and give 100% at all times.
So there’s this tip that I used to give a friend of mine back when I was in high school. I remember there was this girl that he really liked, her name was Amy. She was a very beautiful girl, and she was kind of popular. My friend’s name was George, and he’d been thinking about approaching her for a while.
The number one advice that I gave him was to be confident and to believe in himself. You see, humans are naturally attracted to those that are confident. That’s because confidence indicates experience. For example, if you’re a salesman, you’re much more likely to sell your product if you can prove that you have experience with it. That is the power of confidence, and it’s also probably the most important aspect of being influential.
2. Respect everyone
Our society has unwritten laws and rules that make social life possible and enjoyable. For example, an unwritten rule is to say “hi” or “hello” when you see someone you know, otherwise you might be perceived as “rude”.
Being a respectful person is part and parcel of a modern, developed society that has values. This is natural, and this obviously changes from culture to culture. For example, did you know that in Japan leaving a tip is often considered an insult? If you’re at a restaurant and you leave some change on the table, the waiter is going to run after you to give you your money back!
So if you’re disrespectful, you’re going to automatically be labeled as impolite and you’ll lose all your likelihood of influencing people and gaining their trust. So, no matter what people tell you, keep it together, and treat people with respect without expecting anything in return. People notice when you’re only doing something out of personal interest, so be a genuine person, and it will all change for you.
3. Stay In Control
You should always aspire to inspire and be the biggest motivator in the room. This gives you power and control over everyone else. There’s an unspoken rule of being respected, and it’s about accountability. When you hold yourself and everyone accountable, you prove that you are genuine person and that you are responsible for your own mistakes.
Society respects this, and as soon as you take full responsibility of your life, you can hold other people accountable too. So, every time someone makes a mistake and doesn’t take the blame for it, you step in and do the right thing. If someone is doing someone else wrong, you have to step in and make that person stop, and hold him or her accountable for his or her actions. Accountability equals trust. If you aren’t trustworthy, you aren’t going to be in control no matter how good your communication skills are.
4. Be optimistic and energetic
Always looking at the bright side of every situation is not for everyone. It’s almost like people like feeling sorry for themselves, so they take the worse thing about themselves or a situation and amplify it. Don’t you just hate it when people drown you with their sad stories, or what a terrible day they’ve had, and then expect you to listen and feel sorry for them. But when you don’t they hate you for it.
The thing is, we all have sad stories, but truth is, most people don’t really care. They probably have issues that they are going through and trying to forget and the last thing they want is to hear another sad story. Everybody just wants to laugh, have a good time and enjoy themselves. And good influencers know this.
Being optimistic and being the brightest person in the room even in the hardest of situations will drastically improve your influence. I know, this is easier said than done, but here’s what I’ve noticed in the last couple of years. Being an optimist is part of a mentality that you develop, not one that you get.
It isn’t instant, it’s not like you can say “OK, from now on I’m an optimist!”, it won’t work. In the beginning, you’re going to struggle to be optimistic amidst failure and struggles. It takes time. And after months, as you keep at it you’ll see a big improvement, and before you know it, you’re going to do this unconsciously. As soon as you become an optimist you will start influencing more and more people, as they’re drawn and attracted by your thinking! You’ll become the person that everyone has been waiting for, and this takes me to point number…
5. Public Speaking and Persuasion
When you’re speaking to an audience whether it’s to strangers, your school, or your team, you have to be convincing and powerful. Credibility is achieved by speaking from the heart, with passion, and by being persuasive.
The most important aspect of being a persuasive person (and a great public speaker) is being able to leverage emotions and problems in order to convince people to do something.
Are you trying to sell a pen? Well, it better write well, otherwise, it doesn’t solve my problem of not being able to write my shopping list! When a whole crowd (or even a single person) is listening to you, they have a filter. It’s like everything they hear is interpreted differently, and it is up to you to develop the skill of giving the intended message and obtaining the desired result. Use the pain of your crowd.
Let’s go back to the example of the speech that Alexander the Great gave to his army, why did it work so well? If you analyze it closely, you will find that he leverage their emotions in order to make returning home out of question. You see, at that time, leaving your captain, your king, and giving up the battle for comfort sake was a very disrespected thing to do. You couldn’t just go home and tell your family that you weren’t courageous enough to continue the battle, and that’s the emotion that convinced an entire army to keep fighting. Guilt.
So those are the best tips that I came across in my research on social influence. If you follow and practice these habits, you will see your influence grow. I know that sometimes it might look hard, but remember: practice makes perfect.
Credit: Practical Wisdom