How can I overcome the Influence Deficit

One of the biggest things that both normal and technical people have problems with understanding and dealing with is the difference between influence and power.  Influence is better than power because with power someone has to do what they are told to do, but they may not agree with what they have to do and can dislike the person over them because they were told to do the task.  Influence is where the person will do the task not necessarily because they have to, but because they want to because the person asking them to do the task has the influence over them that they want to do the task.

The thing with influence is that unlike power it is not something that you acquire immediately, like power, but it is something that is acquired over time, and it is not something that is easy to acquire.  To have influence over someone you have to put in time and effort showing that you care about the person and that you are looking out for what is good for them.  The first thing to someone being influenced is that they are open to being influenced.  This is done by being the person’s friend and helping them out and offering helpful suggestions to them.  The next major step is that you have to be willing to change their inner state, which is basically manipulating people which many geeks see as completely wrong but it is not necessarily wrong.  You can manipulate someone into becoming a better person and that is not a bad thing.  The last major step is to be able to move the person to think, feel, or believe differently.

The leaders in my troop asked me to take a young Scout under my guidance and help him out because they saw leadership potential in him, but he was not hanging out with people that would help him progress his Scouting career.  The very first thing I had to do for this “assignment” was to make friends with the Scout, this part wasn’t too difficult because he was always looking for new friends.  The next thing I did was get to know him well and through that, I was able to figure out how to get him to be open to suggestions and new ideas.  Once I was able to suggest new ideas to him and he saw that my ideas not only worked but also helped him out, in the long run, he would often times come to me for advice or suggestions.  This showed me that I was extremely close to being able to influence the Scout and after a little more time I was able to influence the Scout in running for a leadership position in the troop and he did an awesome job and the adult leaders were impressed with both his leadership abilities and my ability to put him on the right track.  The interesting thing is that sitting here writing this it sounds extremely easy but in reality, it took several months of being extremely careful about what I said and the actions I took.

I think that most important thing to gaining influence over someone is setting a good example around them and being their friend.  If you are able to do both of those things and do them well after some time you should have influence over the person or people that you are trying to have influence over.

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