Leaders Influence OutcomesIn my experience, influencing others in a positive manner produces positive outcomes. Here is a four-step process that I follow:

Step 1: Check My Motivations
I must understand why I am having particular interactions. Is it to assist the other person or am I irritated with them about something else? While you do not always have the opportunity to prepare adequately for all verbal exchanges–if you can mentally check your motivations–you can change the outcome to be a win-win situation for each of you.

Step 2: Words Matter
Choosing the words that you use when you are trying to influence others is paramount. At the beginning of my career, I was a poor communicator and manager. It took my mentors to help me understand the power of words. In the past, I felt that if I said something that hurt your feelings, then that meant that you were weak-minded. Therefore, I would continue down this path because I was “helping” you by trying to reduce your sensitivity to my words. It took my mentors to help me understand the power of words.

Step 3: Change Perspectives
To change perspectives means to empathize and try to see the other person’s point of view. Most people have been taught to “place ourselves in the other person’s shoes.” I very rarely did that. To do it effectively, I have discovered that I should not only listen to the words that the other person is saying but also listen to their tone, watch their eyes and be aware of their body language. By doing so, I can change my perspective because I am investing in them rather than attempting to make my point.

Step 4: Transparency
Be very open and honest about why you are having the conversation. If I have performed the first three steps, then I can communicate clearly and compassionately what it is at risk without making judgments. I find it tough to describe my opinion of what’s right or wrong in what amounts to a value judgment without putting my values first. If I truly invest in the other person and what they need to progress, then I owe them open and honest communication.

These four steps embody positive influence and have the potential to yield positive outcomes.