3 Ways to Increase Your Influence

A lot of people get caught up in waiting for the other person to stop talking so they can start. But if you take time to really listen to what the other person has to say, you can sharpen your influencing power. Here’s how.

A person of influence listens to people. They understand the incredible value of becoming a good listener. Listening shows respect and builds relationships—at work and at home!

When you don’t pay attention to what others have to say, you are sending the message that you don’t value them. When you do listen to others, you are communicating that you respect them and show them that you really care about them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Every man I meet is in some way my superior, and I can learn from them.” 

How can you learn if you aren’t really listening?  Unfortunately, few people are good at listening.  If you are one of them—fantastic. If you are like most of us, keep reading!

What gets in the way of listening?  Here are 3 common barriers that get in the way of effective listening.

Barrier No. 1: Overvaluing talking

Effective communication is not persuasion, it is listening. If you are waiting for the other person to stop talking so you can talk, you’re not listening.

TIP: A good rule of thumb—listen twice and much as you speak. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason!

Barrier No. 2: Lacking focus

Most people tend to speak about 180 words a minute, but they can listen at 300 to 500 words a minute, which can cause you to lose focus. You have all that extra space to fill and you can start daydreaming and thinking about what you want to say next or what you are going to have for lunch. 

TIP: Learn to direct that attention by concentrating on the person you are with. Focus on their body language, watch for facial expression, look into their eyes.

Barrier No. 3: Carrying personal emotional baggage

Your past experiences, both positive and negative, color the way you look at life and shape your expectations—especially strong experiences. As Mark Twain said, “A cat who sits on a hot stove will never sit on a hot stove again. He’ll never site on a cold stove either. From there on, that cat just won’t like stoves”. Being preoccupied can make you defensive and impact your ability to really listen.

TIP: Check your emotions and focus on the purpose of the conversation. Keep yourself on an even keel so that you don’t lose the purpose.

Measure your listening skills.  

Ask someone who knows you well to use these questions to evaluate your listening skills:

  • Do I usually look at the speaker while he or she is talking?
  • Do I wait for the speaker to finishing talking before I respond?
  • Do I make understanding my goal?
  • Am I usually sensitive to the speaker’s immediate need?
  • Do I make it a practice to check my emotions?
  • Do I regularly suspend my judgment until I get the whole story?
  • Am I in the practice of summing up what the speaker says at major intervals?
  • Do I ask questions for clarity when needed?
  • Do I communicate to others that listening is a priority?

3      Tips to becoming a better listenter

No. 1: Don’t interrupt. Give people time to express their ideas. Hold that tongue!

No. 2: Focus on understanding. Listen with the intent on real understanding, not just hearing the words - apply meaning to what you are hearing.

No. 3: Ask questions for clarity. Look at the speaker, suspend your judgements and ask questions to ensure understanding. If you show people how much you care and ask questions in a nonthreatening way, you’ll be amazed by how much they’ll tell you.

There is no greater gift than being listened to and you should really be present with the person you are talking to. As an executive coach, my job is to listen and help leaders come to their own insight. Often, it is one of the few conversations they have where they feel like they are being listened to as well. It is very infrequent that we allow people to talk and be listened to. It seems like such a simple thing but the highly distracted world we live in is often the excuse we give to withholding this gift to the people we care about the most.

"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." --Stephen R. Covey

About Jill Windelspecht

How you end 2018 is how you will start 2019 - join me and start STRONG!  Mark Twain said “The two most important days in life are the day you were born and the day you discover the reason why.”

Imagine yourself 12 months from now, living the life you’ve always wanted. How would it FEEL to have the clarity to make that possible? How would it FEEL to have a group of people that support, challenge and hold you accountable to your dreams?

Join me and your peers - finish strong and start strong!  

Learn more  https://talentspecialists.net/unlock-your-potential/

Jill Windelspecht has spent 20 years coaching executives, leading global and regional talent strategies, managing change and developing people. She works with mid- to senior-level executives and business owners to reach their potential and help create organizational climates that lead to lifelong prosperity. Helping executives develop their leadership and communication skills so that they can build a strong, cohesive team and break through any barriers holding themselves and their team back ... and not have to burn themselves out by doing so!  View her website by clicking here or contact Jill via email at Jillwindel@talentspecialists.net.  

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  • Next up: 3 Guiding Principles Hyland Followed to Become a Globally Recognized Powerhouse

    3 Guiding Principles Hyland Followed to Become a Globally Recognized Powerhouse

    Read on to learn from Hyland on how maintaining a clear vision, measuring success and giving back to the community all contributed to making the company a global leader in the technology industry.

    Hyland began as a small, tech startup in Rocky River and has grown into a globally recognized technology force headquartered right here in Northeast Ohio. But getting to where the company is today was not easy. During a recent Greater Cleveland Partnership event, the company's leadership explained to attendees the three core, guiding principles her company followed to become a globally recognized brand.

    Core principle No. 1: Have a clear vision

    Before you go out to take over the world, you need to take a second to ask yourself a couple of questions:

    • What’s one thing your company is going to do that will help the world?
    • What do we need to do to become a great company?

    These questions will help you set the vision for your company. Make sure to write down the answers to these questions because they will serve as the guiding values by which you operate your business. (At Hyland, those values are integrity, solutions, partnership, family and passion.)

    Decide how you will go about bringing these values to life and revisit them frequently to ensure you’re staying on track.

    Core principle No. 2: Chart your success

    In addition to putting in place values and a mission that will inspire you, it’s also critical to be able to measure success. At Hyland, one of these measuring sticks is earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA. It’s not just about growth. Kirk said. It’s about profitable growth.

    Growth via acquisition is another important part of Hyland’s growth strategy, so company executives measure that, too. The company buys technologies that augment the company’s vision and commitment to innovation. And in doing so, Hyland brings people on board who are a good cultural fit. People are 90% of the investment Hyland makes.

    Core principle No. 3: Invest in community

    The presentation ended with an emphasis that giving back to the community is a critical part of being successful.

    A commitment to community giving can yield a lot of positives for a company, particularly as it relates to employee retention. Giving your people an opportunity to go out and help others is a powerful way of giving your employees a sense of pride in what they do and the organization of which they are a part. Giving back is not just a responsibility. It’s a privilege. It’s an honor.

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  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: How to Network Like a Pro

    3 Things to Know: How to Network Like a Pro

    There’s more to networking than exchanging handshakes and business cards. Here are three things we think you should know before your next networking opportunity.

    In our 3 Things to Know series we explore a variety of topics popular on the Mind Your Business site. This month we are taking a close look at what our experts have to share on the subject of networking. Take notes before your next networking event, which might just be the one we feature at the bottom of this article!

    The first thing to know: How to differentiate yourself from other businesses

    The first key to effective networking is having a solid understanding of how you as a business owner and your business itself are unique compared to others in the market. What makes your product or service better than the other companies providing similar products or services? Before you start networking, it’s crucial to have specific responses to this question locked and loaded. When you’re able to identify those things that separate your business from the rest and effectively center your pitch around those thoughts, people will be attracted to your passion—and, hopefully, your business.

    The second thing to know: Listen to Phil

    If we are going to talk about networking we must turn to COSE’s self-proclaimed godfather of networking, Phil Stella. He tells it like it is and understands that networking can be a turnoff to some people. In fact, he commonly talks about why he hates networking and why you should, too. Here he shares the 10 worst networking practices and how to avoid them. And, in a popular recent article, Phil asks you to consider an important question: Are you a Networking Slug? Check out his description of this type of networker and how you can avoid networking slug behavior so you aren’t losing business because of it.

    The third thing to know: It’s all about your approach

    So, we know not to be a networking slug. But another approach to effective networking is to see it as less of a formal task that needs to be accomplished, and more of a social event. Take the work out of networking—have more fun by following these tips on how to stop networking and start kibitzing.

    And, networking is not just about meeting new people and promoting yourself. It’s about actually creating individual connections. Being prepared, setting personal goals and being a good listener are all ways to help you build these connections—and, in turn, build your business. So don’t just network—engage!

    Now, it’s time to apply your newfound networking knowledge to some upcoming opportunities. Check out the Small Business Resource Fair hosted by the Business Growth Collaborative on May 14. Join us for a day focused on helping your small business access the resources, support and opportunities you need to grow.

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  • Next up: 4 Leadership Lessons from BizConCLE

    4 Leadership Lessons from BizConCLE

    From enhancing customer retention to what sets transformational entrepreneurs apart, BizConCLE 2017 was filled with useful takeaways and lessons that small- and medium-sized businesses can use to build their business. In case you missed it, check out the below for recaps of the four impactful keynotes that took place during the show. Learn more about BizConCLE and how it can help your company by clicking here.

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  • Next up: 4 Ways to Be a Better Leader

    4 Ways to Be a Better Leader

    What traits do you think of when you consider what makes for an effective leader? During a recent Small Business Boot Camp session, Jeff Nischwitz of The Nischwitz group took a deep dive into the qualities all leaders share, and how those characteristics can help a small business—and its staff—thrive. Below are X takeaways from the presentation.

    What traits do you think of when you consider what makes for an effective leader? During a recent Small Business Boot Camp session, Jeff Nischwitz of The Nischwitz group took a deep dive into the qualities all leaders share, and how those characteristics can help a small business—and its staff—thrive. Below are X takeaways from the presentation.

    1. Know Yourself

    Entrepreneurs need to understand what kind of leader they are striving to be. And as part of that discovery, should ask themselves three questions:

    • What kind of leader am I committed to becoming?
    • Am I willing to let go of how things have always been done?
    • Can I tolerate living outside of my comfort zone?

    2. What Not to Do

    Leadership is not bullying. It is not about being disengaged. What is it about, then? Continue reading …

    3. Be Accountable

    A leader has to have the trust of their staff. Being accountable is one way to build trust, but what are the others? Try being human:

    • Ask for feedback.
    • Admit mistakes.
    • Be honest if you don’t know the answer to something.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
    • Allow staff the freedom to challenge perceptions.
    • Understand the ‘3 I’s of Leadership.’ 

    4. Be Conscious

    Remember back in the second item that talk about being disengaged? A Gallup Survey found that 70% of employees are not engaged with their work and employer. The steps outlined above will go a long way toward helping eliminate a leader’s blind spots and increase team engagement. It’s important that leaders take a “conscious” leadership position, that is, be aware of not only the needs of their staff but also to honor their staff’s perception of their leadership. And if you want to know more about conscious leadership, check out Nischwitz’ book: “Unmask: Let Go of Who You’re Supposed to Be & Unleash Your True Leader.

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  • Next up: 4 Ways to Be a Winning Entrepreneur

    4 Ways to Be a Winning Entrepreneur

    There are many characteristics that differentiate winners from non-winners. See if you have what it takes to be a winner in all that you do.

    We all want to be winners, right? Here are some traits to keep in mind when it comes to the difference between winners and non-winners.

    Winners are usually people who set goals (realistically and with a measure of "stretch"), make commitments and, in the long run, keep them. Non-winners usually set goals (unrealistic and "safe"), duck commitments and, in the long run, fail to meet them.

    Non-winners look for the easy way out. They believe others "owe" them a living. They externalize their failures—rationalizing away their own failings. They hide their not­OKness behind braggadocio and plastic extroversion. When encountering the slightest obstacle, they become immobilized. If they can move at all, they choose the path of least resistance, then wonder why this choice leaves them dead-ended most of the time.

    Winning vs. non-winning traits

    The following characteristics can be found within non-winners:

    Non-winner Trait No. 1: Being I-centered, amateurish and unable to plan any further than today.

    Non-winner Trait No. 2: Not being able to think on their own—being a poll taker. Non-winners might ask "How am I doing?" to other people repeatedly. 

    Non-winner Trait No. 3: Needing constant validation, which never comes.

    Non-winners are the antithesis of everything winners stand for. The following characteristics can be commonly found within winners.

    Winner Trait No. 1: Working for what they have instead of depending on others to take care of their needs.

    Winner Trait No. 2: Accepting responsibility for their behavior. 

    Winner Trait No. 3: Being confident instead of cocky. 

    Winner Trait No. 4: Expecting to face obstacles and roadblocks, but not allowing these temporary setbacks to alter their


    Seeking success and overcoming obstacles

    Winners can see the future—they are true magicians. How can they foresee the future when non-winners cannot? Because they make the future. Winners are goal setters and goal achievers. When faced with an obstacle or roadblock, winners lie down by the side of the road and try to figure out how they got there (which non-winners do), they don’t hold up their hands and yell, "Take me out coach, it's too tough here!" (which is the non-winner's favorite one-liner). Winners take action, check their plan of action to see if they had anticipated the problem and already made provisions for its solution. If not, winner deal with the obstacle and continue to move forward or around it.

    Non-winners seek escape from pain, while winners seek the achievement of happiness. Non-winners exist for the sake of avoiding punishment, while winners exist for the sake of earning rewards. Non-winners spend their sales career belly-aching and externalizing failures. Winners chart their course, cover it with unswerving determination, and achieve the success they rightfully deserve.

    Everyone, including you, is a winner. You possess the will to determine if you will win today, or if you will "non­ winner" it. Careful how you choose, as it will shape your choice tomorrow—and the next day. The secret to becoming a winner is to win a little bit every day in all that you do.

    Tom Scully is sales consultant and owner of a Sandler Training franchise in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

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