Influencing others can sometimes be a difficult task. The first and most important aspect of influencing other people is being able to communicate with people. That first step right there already snags quite a few geeks. It takes practice and comfort to be able to communicate with other non geeks well. You have to be able to understand the best way to maintain their attention. If you don’t have their attention, you can’t influence them. I am most definitely an introvert and I don’t particularly enjoy talking to people, but the aspect of that has helped me the most with influencing is being strategic, which is very much of a geek trait. I am intentionally strategic when it comes to communicating with people and when influencing them. Another way that I have been able to influence others during group work or other activities is by establishing myself as someone who doesn’t give poor ideas.
To achieve this, you have to gain credibility and build a small relationship by agreeing with people who currently hold the most influence in the group. You have to give the sense that you both are on the same team and build a bit of a bond with them. This is where is becomes possible to start suggesting smaller ideas of your own, while still intentionally trying not to disagree with what the main influencer is saying. Depending on how everyone else in the group perceives you, this is when you can start disagreeing with others and suggesting bigger ideas; because you’ve built that influence. You can’t win every battle, and if you want to win the war, you have to pick and choose your battles.
Our book, The Geek Leader’s Handbook states that geeks tend to have the least amount of influence in business meetings. The main reasons that geeks have trouble with influencing other are: Geeks don’t know the difference between influence and power; Geeks fail to cultivate the preconditions for being influenced; Geeks try to use techniques that are more suited to salespeople than geeks. The book then goes on to talk about how improve on those three areas. The book also spends a large section on empathy. I tend to be good at empathizing, but I don’t do it simply to be empathetic. I’m always strategically empathetic. If I want to communicate that I am interested in what the other person has to say, I will empathize with them. But if I don’t want to communicate that I am interested in what the other person has to say, I will give a colder exterior. I believe that the book is also talking about strategic empathizing.
Here are some psychological tips for influencing others, although, these could be viewed as a bit more manipulative.
2) Repeat stuff back
3) Keep Quiet
4) Offer they can’t refuse
5) Use tiredness
8) Use a person’s Name
9) Aim High
10) Get Favors
Geeks are often strategic thinkers and strategy can be very useful when influencing other people. Geeks should use their strategic thinking to influence others. They just need to get past the first issue of communicating with others first.