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Raising your level of influence is often a matter of changing others’ perceptions about you. How can you grow in workplace stature, to get ahead of your peers?
Here are seven ways:
Posture A confident posture is the starting place for taking charge Stand or sit upright and face the person you are talking with so they know they have your attention. Practice controlling all of those little actions, called "tells", that signal a lack of confidence. These include all types of fidgeting or shifting on your feet or chair. All forms of self contact, like adjusting your collar, jewellery, cuffs or hair indicate nervousness.
Become an authority This is not quite the same as being an expert. An expert knows more than other people about something. As an authority, you will be the person people go to for answers and recommendations - maybe because you are an expert, or maybe because you can evaluate what experts say or interpret it for the rest of us. Cultivate the ability to see through to the marrow of a topic and ask incisive questions.
Focus Avoid spreading yourself too thinly. Have the confidence to know what your niche is and get yourself known for that. Ironically, the narrower your focus, the more credible you become. If you want to spread yourself more widely, find a unifying theme.
Silence Cultivate the art of powerful silence. When they stop speaking, take time to think through your response. Your silence says "I was listening, now I am thinking". Make them wait for you. If they feel nervous and fill the gap, then your stature will grow. When you finish speaking, stop and wait. The more deliberately you speak, the more confident you sound.
Process When everyone gets hooked up on a problem, a dispute, or a tricky decision, focus on finding a process that will deliver the answer. Leadership is controlling the process. Set the emotional tone and establish a structure, and let the others follow your process to the answer. They will sense you knew all along where they were headed, but were too generous to leap in and tell them.
Evaluate Take nothing at face value. Use your silences to evaluate what you see and hear and offer insightful feedback that says "I'm thinking ahead, I see further, I see deeper". Congratulate people when they get it right and ask careful questions that probe gaps in their thinking when they don't.
Respect Learn to say "no" to requests. This is difficult: you got where you are by saying "yes" and delivering. Now there are too many calls on your time, and saying yes to all of them makes you a doormat, not a hero. So practice staying strategic in your choices about when to say "yes".
Mike Clayton has written Brilliant Influence about how to influence with integrity.
STAND TALL AT WORK