Picture by Cea from Flickr

The way I think about it, “people are funny” and so are you. In fact, YOU are the starting place for all new influencing strategies and tactics. That probably seems logical, but we most often change our actions based on what we have done in the past, not on how our dance steps may be received by our partners.

Turn The Lens Around on Yourself

We know that we look at others through our own “lens.” Now turn your lens around and consider how others view you. What are your patterns of behavior and action? What might others see or know about how you think about the situation or what’s important to you? What do they find difficult? How are you easy to work with?

Being honest with yourself and curious about how others see you can be one of the most important success criteria for any person in life. If you are really interested and specific, you will have far more ability to devise a change that meets the pattern of the person with whom you want to more influential. Open a notebook and  record and organize what you know about yourself. Then step back and reflect on five overarching questions that draw on that information:

  1. What is foundational in my background and experience? For example, where you grew up, your parents’ messages, a teacher, a particular company or job, etc.
  2. With what do I strongly identify? For example, your role as parent, an entrepreneur, professional, innovator, etc.
  3. What kind of person am I? For example, you may be “the kind of person” who always makes time for people, or who starts the day early, or who says “we’re all in this together.”
  4. What is important to me? For example, in your personal and professional life, you may care deeply about the relationships, results, your family, etc.
  5. In what am I truly interested? For example, you may have a strong interest in the global environment, new product development, change management, leadership, etc.
Below, you can see how I have answered these questions. I am giving you a small window into who I am. With this honest but short snapshot, begin to think about how you might influence me. And, imagine just how much more you might learn in order to be very influential with me.

It’s Not About You, It’s About a Dance

You are the person you need to understand first to be a more effective influencer. And, you are the person you know best. That’s the good news! The bad news is that “it’s not really all about you.”

Why bring this up? Because, in reality, when we need to influence someone or a set of folks, we can miss the mark in two ways:

  1. We can focus on actions and work, not the people—in that way it is about you and your partners.
  2. We can focus on solutions that only include what we will or can or want to do—not on how we might envision a different interplay.

It’s the new dance that needs to be part of your vision. But, before we get to the dance, take the week thinking about the outcome you projected last week and the “dance” that you have been doing.