Interpersonal Communication, Our Blog

Four Steps to Greater Influence

By Tasha M. Troy

Recently I was asked what would help someone become more persuasive.  The answer I gave may have seemed simplistic or counter intuitive, but I’ve found it to be essential for myself in having influence without position and persuasion without pressure, particularly in the cross-cultural settings I usually find myself in.

If you are interested in influence in “disposable” relationships, there are a number of manipulative strategies out there; a simple Google search of “how to persuade” brings back over 38 million results!  However, if you are looking for more lasting results, I would like to share four steps that you can take.

Because these steps are unilateral, you have to consider them as investments rather than exchanges.  Once you’ve made enough of an investment into any one individual, it will eventually become an exchange, but if your focus is on the exchange, you will likely become discouraged and frustrated.

If it is an investment, you should expect it to take time to generate a return.  Executed with consistency, these steps will establish you as a “go-to” person, a reliable ally when things are difficult.

1. Listen to Understand

The most powerful tool I have found in building rapport with anyone is simply listening.  Not listening to fix or to respond, but listening to truly understand where another person is coming from.  This one action alone has established me as the one person in my family that is trusted to get through to the other members.

Effective listening at this level does not happen when we are focused on our own position, our own ideas, our own “rightness.”  We have to set that all aside and truly focus in on where the other person is coming from.  Responding and defending our position can come later.

How to Develop Listening Skills (according to John Maxwell):  1. Look at the speaker.  2. Don’t interrupt.  3. Focus on understanding.  4. Determine the need at the moment.  5. Check your emotions.  6. Suspend your judgment.  7. Sum up at major intervals.  8. Ask questions for clarity.  9. Always make listening your priority.  (p 46 – 51)

More on listening:

2. See the Other’s Perspective

Building on the deep listening of step 1, you can begin to “put yourself in the other’s shoes.”  When you focus on the heart of what people are saying rather than on the words used to express those ideas, and you are able to reflect back to that person their own thoughts with your own words, you create a bond that is not easily broken.  When people feel like you “get them,” they begin to open up to you – and your influence – in ways you might not expect.

If you’re not sure where to start with understanding others, I suggest you start with the “five core concerns.”  Dan Shapiro of the Harvard Negotiation Project describes five things that every person you meet is concerned about.  When you are able to understand these concerns, you have begun to understand the person’s perspective.

How to Understand Others: the 5 Core Concerns (according to Dan Shapiro):  1. Appreciation, 2. Autonomy, 3. Affiliation, 4. Status, 5. Role

More on understanding others:

3. Encourage Others to Achieve

If you can learn to understand people – how they think, what inspires them, how they’re likely to act in a given situation – then you can motivate and influence them.  While it might feel unnecessary, it has been my experience – both as a teacher and coach and as a recipient of encouragement – that people often don’t clearly see their own strengths and potential.  Very often, what I see as an obvious strength in an individual is a source of insecurity for that person.

However, when people understand what you see in them, it gives them confidence and the power to set aside the insecurity and move forward in their personal life purpose.  When they achieve some success through your encouragement, it can then establish you as a trusted source of advice, further increasing your influence with them.

How to Become a Believer in People (according to John Maxwell):  1. Believe in them before they succeed.  2. Emphasize their strengths.  3. List their past successes.  4. Instill confidence when they fail.  5. Experience some wins together.  6. Visualize their future success.  7. Expect a new level of living.  (p. 24 – 31)

More on encouraging others:

4. Build Trust

The final step to long-lasting influence is to build trust.  This is the result of consistently walking out the first three steps.

John Maxwell has compared building trust to a deposit account.  Every time we act in ways that demonstrate integrity, we increase our trust account.  Whenever we act in ways that don’t demonstrate integrity, we decrease our trust account.  Some activities create larger deposits or withdrawals, and some can bankrupt your trust reserves.  (p. 357)

As we develop integrity and trustworthiness, it becomes our character.  This is when you’ve become the influential “go-to” person in your circle, regardless of your position.

How to Become a Person of Integrity (according to John Maxwell):  1. Commit yourself to honesty, reliability, and confidentiality.  2. Decide ahead of time that you don’t have a price.  3. Each day, do what you should do before what you want to do.  (p. 65 – 66)

More on building trust:

From “Investment” to “Exchange”

Once you’ve become consistent in these four steps, you will likely find “investment” relationships evolving into “exchange” relationships.  If you find the other person reciprocating, you can consider this an exchange relationship and can feel confident taking the relationship deeper.  Often, these people will become trusted allies in your plans and projects in return.

Take It Deeper

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.


Maxwell, J. 2003.  REAL Leadership: The 101 Collection.

Shapiro, D. The Five Core Concerns of Negotiation.

Leadership, Our Blog

Building Trust in the Marketplace Starts with Me

By Tasha M. Troy

Have you ever felt misunderstood, that you were being treated unfairly based on someone else’s misconception?

A few years ago when I was leading a rather large project, I lost the trust of my team.  I had made a few bad decisions, and about two-thirds through the 6-month project, the situation reached a crisis point.  I had to make great efforts (and to humble myself) in order to sufficiently regain their trust so that I could coach them through to completion.

When I lost their trust, their success was jeopardized.


The Center of Trust

What can you do to resolve such a situation and move forward?

The root of it all is an issue of trust; it became clear to me that my team did not trust me or my intentions.

Stephen M. R. Covey, son of the famed author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says that today, “We are in a crisis of trust.”  Trust is truly a highly precious commodity that is in short supply today.

In his book The Speed of Trust, Covey describes “5 Waves of Trust” as ripples in a pond: self trust, relationship trust, organizational trust, market trust, and societal trust.

It all starts with the individual: to what extent are you a trustworthy and credible person?


Two Elements of Trust

Covey goes on to say that “trust is a function of two things: character and competence.”  It seems to me that most people spend a lot of time and energy on developing their competence—pursuing advanced degrees and certifications, building their skills and expertise on the job—but few pay attention to building their character.

Character has its source in our daily decisions, which forms our habits.  The bottom line is that every day we can choose to make any situation better or worse.  If we consistently choose to make the situation better, we build the habits that lead to strong character.  However, if we consistently choose to make the situation worse (including choosing inaction), we build the habits that lead to weak character.


Developing Self-Trust

The first wave of trust, according to Mr. Covey, is self-trust, by which he means personal credibility.  Are you able to trust yourself?  If you cannot trust yourself, no one else will be able to trust you.

I find this closely related to self-discipline.  So many times, we hold ourselves to commitments made to others, but neglect the commitments made to ourselves.  How many times have you made the same New Year’s resolutions yet failed to keep them?

Every day you can choose to keep your commitment to yourself or you can choose to break it, choices that form your character and either establish or corrode your self-trust.

If you want to grow in the area of trust, Mr. Covey suggests starting with your commitments to yourself.  For me, this means getting up when my alarm goes off the first time, the time I intended to get up, and developing healthier habits.

Take It Deeper

What about you?  What commitments to yourself are you going to follow through on this week?

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.