100% Jodi: Being Influential vs Being Forceful
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In this episode I’m going to cover being forceful versus being influential. We all have an idea of what we want and there are many strategies we can utilize to accomplish our goal. However, in regard to using force, which many of us can default into because of the short-term gains, there are many more benefits to cultivating influence even though it takes more time and conscious intention.
Hello, I’m Jodi Flynn and welcome to the Women Taking the Lead podcast. I’m an executive leadership coach, author, speaker, workshop facilitator and I have the joy to work with women leaders who want to hone the skills they’ll need to thrive in Senior Leadership. I know I’ve met a woman I would love to work with when we start having a few laughs about our tendencies toward perfectionism and people pleasing.
I have been living in Maine for the past 18 years and thanks to the beauty of technology I’ve been able to work with women all over the world.
I do individual coaching as well as workshops and team retreats. I am currently in the processes of taking my coaching system and turning it into an online course for those who prefer a Do-It-Yourself model of learning.
I am the current President of the board for The Maine Women’s Conference and I am a Curriculum Partner for a Women’s Leadership development program through Real Women Collective Action (RWCA).
I spend my free time catching up with friends and family, planning trips to Virginia to visit my guy, working out, and watching the Great British Baking Show.
Communication and Relationships
Because of my expertise in communication and relationship building there have been times I’ve been approached by organizations looking for scripts of what to say. And hearing what this episode was going to cover, you may also have wondered if there are the right things to say to be more influential.
I always respectfully hear what they have to say and why they want these scripts and then I explain to them that communication, relationship building, and gaining influence are more about who you are being that what you are saying.
When I talk about who you are being, I’m referring to your demeanor, your attitude and the overall experience you are creating for the other person or people around you.
You’ve probably heard this before: communication is comprised of only 7% word choice or verbal communication. The other 93% is split 38% vocal (think tone of voice, inflection, volume, etc.) and the final 55% is nonverbal communication (facial expressions and body language).
That means, that while you may have 7% of your communication nailed down the other 93% of what you are communicating may not be in your conscious control. Even if you can get conscious control of some of your vocal and nonverbal communication and get that percentage up to 50% or 60%, you still have 40%-50% of your communication sending different messages.
The State of Influence
I work with my clients on being in a state where their demeanor is influential and from there the right words come naturally. They don’t have to overthink it.
For instance, when you want to be influential get into a state of curiosity and genuine interest. If you are genuinely curious and interested in someone you don’t have to think hard about what to say or what questions to ask. In this state the questions come to you without effort.
And, being curious and interested is a state of ease and nonjudgment. Because you’re focused on those around you, you’re not trying to answer questions in your head like:
How am I doing?
Am I having fun?
Do I like anyone here?
Is this worth my time?
Those questions immediately put you in a state that is not at all influential and can ruin any progress you’ve made to form or build a relationship.
The State of Being Forceful
Now let’s take a look at being forceful. And while yes, forceful can look like wielding a knife or a gun, threatening harm to anyone who doesn’t do what you say, that’s not the kind of force I’m going to cover here.
In its most subtle form forceful looks like a veiled or an explicit threat that if the other person doesn’t comply with your wishes, they will pay a consequence. There are many ways this plays out in our day-to-day lives.
- Threatening to terminate an employee if they don’t go along with upcoming changes
- Making a decision without discussing it with all the people who will be impacted by that decision
- Threatening to withhold expressions of love if a friend or family member acts in a way you disapprove of
- Threatening to take away a child’s favorite toy if they don’t finish their dinner
- Using expressions of outrage and anger, or creating a scene, to get the other person to back down
In all of these scenarios there is a sense of “I win and you lose.”
Now, are there times when force is an appropriate response? Yes, there are.
In an emergency, decisions need to be made quickly. If someone is about to be harmed, or is harming themselves, you need to do what you need to do to protect them.
But let’s be honest, these occasions are rare and, in most cases, when we are using force, it’s because we want a quick resolution with as little effort as possible.
Your Will vs Their Will
If you are recalling times you’ve used subtle force in the past to get your way, don’t beat yourself up. We’ve all done it. And now that you see it more clearly, in the future you can make a different choice.
Having used subtle force in the past you’ve seen that you can get quick results. But what you’ve also seen is those results can go away just as quickly and, though you may get exhausted by it, you have to repeatedly exert subtle force to keep those around you in line.
Have you wondered why that is?
The answer is, no one likes being told what to do.
I’m going to say it a little differently, no one likes being told that your will trumps their will.
Now you may be thinking, “But there are those people who like being told what to do. They want me to take charge.”
Guess what? In those cases, the other person’s will does override your will. It’s their will to allow your will and not the other way around. If they decided to follow someone else, you will lose them in a heartbeat, because it’s their will that matters to them.
In any situation where people comply with what you want, but when you go away they start doing what they want, if means force, rather than influence is guiding their actions.
And if you see this in your life, I don’t want you to think that it implies you’re a monster. You are not. It’s just that your presence, your guidance, your accountability is the reason people find it easy to do what you want them to do.
When your presence, guidance and accountability are removed – if they don’t have an internal force within them, wholehearted buy-in to what they are doing – they will struggle with keeping up those behaviors that you want from them.
So, it may not be that you are ruling with an iron fist, but there is something missing in the way you are leading. You are not being influential and helping others to buy into the vision of where you all can be.
Anger as a Weapon
Another component of force that needs to be addressed is weaponizing anger and outrage to point out to someone that they are failing you.
Now it’s one thing to express to someone, when this happened or when you said what you said it made me angry. It’s a completely different thing to lash out at someone in anger and verbally attack them.
Anger and outrage are perfectly valid feelings and are natural. The thing to consider, after you’ve had a chance to cycle through the emotion, is you feel the way you feel based on your perspective of what is happening.
In the heat of your reaction it may not be the best time to address the situation.
If you go into the conversation making angry accusations only to find out you made assumption because you didn’t have all the information, you will have hurt the relationship and damaged your own credibility.
You may feel justified about what you did based on the information you had but it doesn’t change the fact that you have hurt your own cause.
Use Curiosity Instead of Anger
When something happens and you find yourself getting angry and upset consider that you don’t have all the information. Rather than attacking, get curious and ask really good questions. Get the bottom of what happened and then decide how you want to respond.
As you can imagine, going into a conversation angry versus going into a conversation curious, is going to yield two different results and those results have layers: situation, relationship, reputation. What result do you want?
It is so much easier to accomplish your goals when you have great relationships with those around you. People who love, respect and admire you are happy to help you and you are happy to help them.
Can you see that with those relationships in your life it is so much easier to achieve your goals?
That is influence.
How to Increase Your Influence
- Have a strong sense of integrity; keep your word
- Be clear on your core values and live by them
- Be confident and secure in who you are and your abilities
- Continue to develop yourself personally and professionally
- Respect and treat the people you lead with fairness
- Own up to your mistakes and make amends
- Be inclusive, invite others in, letting them be a part of the process
- Make others feel valued and heard
- Be agile and flexible, especially when faced with challenges
- Demonstrate openness, transparency, humility and intelligence
- Have a good sense of humor; value fun and enjoyment in the workplace and elsewhere
- Take your work seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously
- Be curious and embody a sense of possibility
- Assume good intent
- Inspire people by sharing your vision with them and helping them to see themselves in that vision
- Be a team player and make others happy to be on your team, playing alongside you
- Be willing to roll up your sleeves, work hard, and do what it takes
- and so much more…
If you are already doing these things you are probably very in tune with having a blessed life. Well done and keep going. We are blessed to have you among us.
And, if while going through that list you realized you could use some support in developing any of the characteristics and the demeanor that creates influence, I would love to partner with you on this. What is so great about coaching is the things that help to make you a better leader are the things that cause you to be happier and healthier in all areas of your life.
If you’re ready or you would like to hear more about how coaching can help you develop influence reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be an honor to be a part of your journey.
And if you thought of a friend or colleague whom this episode would be helpful to, please share it with them. Some of the most useful resources I’ve gained on my journey have come as recommendations from those who cared about me.
As always, I hope this was helpful to you, and here’s to your success!
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