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Don’t Underestimate Your Influence at Work

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The tendency to mistrust can also lead us to unnecessarily (and endlessly) look for ways to gain influence when what we really need is to better recognize the influence we already have – but can ‘g is not effectively used. In this piece, the author offers three suggestions, not for gaining influence, but for becoming more aware of the influence you already have but don’t always see, so that you can begin to use your hidden influence in smarter way.

If you’re like most people, you often underestimate the influence you have on others. When researchers ask people how they think others will treat them, think about them, and agree to do things for them and then compare these estimates with objective indicators of how much others do. to be honest payment pay attention to them, think about themand agree to do things for them, people’s subjective views tend to lack confidence compared to reality. Even the people of positions of power may underestimate their influence by mistakenly thinking that they have power over feel more comfortable to challenge them or to reject their proposals than their subordinates actually feel.

The blind spot people have for their own influence can have important consequences. Failure to recognize the influence you have can lead to missed opportunities to lead change efforts, demand the things you deserve, and show support for the causes you care about. In other cases, it can lead you to say or do things unintentionally, leading you to influence others unintentionally – sometimes in ways you wish you hadn’t.

This tendency to mistrust can also lead people to unnecessarily (and endlessly) search for ways to gain influence – when what they really need is to better recognize the influence they already have. them, but may not be effectively used. Below are three suggestions from my recent BOOKSnot for gaining influence, but for becoming more aware of the influence you already have but don’t often see, so you can start using your hidden influence more wisely.

Look at your influence on others.

One reason we fail to recognize the influence we have on others is that we don’t see it. When we look at the world, we do it through our own two eyes. This means that we see all the things that other people do that affect us and the ways in which other people affect each other. But the critical thing missing from our default worldview is ourselves. We fail to see the ways in which we may be contributing to a potentially problematic dynamic.

To better see the influence of your words and actions on others, you want to practice getting rid of your own head so that you are not confined to the limited space that we occupy every day where we cannot see things. we do that others may respond to.

A useful exercise is to spend 10 minutes imagining an important workplace interaction or meeting you just had from a neutral third-party perspective. Pretend you’re a coach reviewing tape of his team’s last game — except the game you’re reviewing is a tense meeting you’re having with a teammate or teammate. How can someone observing this interaction from the outside interpret the dynamics at play? What do you say and do that might be responded to by another person or people?

Spending less than 10 minutes every few months or so reflecting on a new argument from a third-party perspective has been shown to maintaining relationship satisfaction in couplespossibly because it gives each party an awareness of their own role in perpetuating the conflict.

Feel your influence on others.

Another reason people tend to be wrong about their influence on others is that they tend to guess what they say and do to make others feel, rather than asking questions and confirming that their assumptions are correct.

To understand our influence on others, we must not only see the ways in which our actions affect others, but we must also understand how others really feel. We must find a way to understand how they experience our presence, words, and actions.

Unfortunately, while many believe that in order to better understand another person’s thoughts and feelings, we should simply try to think about things from their perspective, this intuition is wrong. Try as much as possible to get the perspective of others to find out what they really think about something we say, if we do this we will never escape our own heads and be left guessing , is always inaccurate.

This is why researchers know that to truly understand what others are thinking or feeling, it is not enough to try to get their perspective, we must get a perspective. Gaining perspective requires exposure to new information. A very straightforward, – and effective – way to gain perspective is to simply ask someone what they are thinking or feeling. Although people don’t always tell us exactly what they’re thinking, or necessarily know how they really feel about something, talking to someone else can get you out of your own echo chamber. that head. This allows you to base your reading of others’ minds on more than just your own assumptions about them.

Experience your influence on others.

Finally, a major reason people often underestimate their influence is that they fail to try. We don’t say things unless we’re sure others are likely to be receptive, and we don’t ask for things unless we’re sure people will say yes. But our judgments of acceptability and the propensity to agree are both biased and imprecise. If we test our influence a little, even in small ways, we will quickly see how much more influence we have than we think.

In my own research, I have found this to be true. When my colleagues and I taught the participants to make small requests of other peoplethey are often surprised at how willing others are to agree – and thus the influence they have when they make a simple request.

In some research on myself and others, trying to give someone a praise or express your GRATITUDE means more to people than we think.

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For these reasons, one of the easiest and most effective ways to identify your hidden influence is to test it. Instead of bending over backwards to avoid asking a simple favor, go ahead and ask. Instead of keeping your gratitude or appreciation for a colleague to yourself, go ahead and tell them. You’ll quickly learn that your words have an impact — more than you ever thought possible.

The experience you gain from testing your influence in these small ways, when combined with the tips described above for getting out of your own head and getting perspective, will not only help you develop a muscle. for using your influence more, but also for using it more thoughtfully.

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