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3 off-beat tips for creating instant influence

Tuesday, February 9, 2016  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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By Jo Miller

From time to time, while browsing online, I discover odd bits of information that wouldn’t fit neatly into a corporate leadership training program, but are potential game-changers, nonetheless.

Related: 5 ways to be a leader (not a manager)

So, in the spirit of those Internet ads promising “One weird trick to reduce belly fat,” here are three off-beat tips for instantly increasing your influence.

1. Wake up to a power pose. Harvard Business School associate professor Amy Cuddy’s TEDTalk has gathered over 16 million views, popularizing the power pose — aka the Wonder Woman stance. Use your power pose before a meeting and you’ll pump up your confidence and authority.

Cuddy also has been examining the effect of sleeping sprawled out versus curled up. “Early results show that people who arise with arms and legs extended feel brighter and more optimistic than the 40 percent who start the day in a fetal position,” according to David Hochman in the New York Times. So if power posing during the day is too much effort, you can do it in bed!

“Open yourself up like the guy on the subway taking up too much space,” Cuddy says, “and soon enough you’ll feel like a happy warrior.”

2. Be an energizer. Be an energizer! That’s the message shared by Robert L. Cross and Andrew Parker in their book, The Hidden Power of Social Networks. They discovered that “those who energized others are much higher performers.”

These “energizers” are also better at persuading others to act. For example, energizers are adept at persuading colleagues to assist them or getting clients to make a purchase. “Our results suggest that those who energize others may be more likely to be heard and have their ideas put into action,” according to the authors.

But being an energizer is not about being the most entertaining or charismatic individual in the room. Rather, they are people who bring themselves fully into an interaction. Want to influence others to take action? Be fully present and focused when you interact.

3. Use the most powerful word in the English language. That word is “because.” For a study on mindful behavior done in the 1970s, Ellen Langer of Harvard University and her colleagues conducted an experiment where two confederates (one male and one female) approached people at a Xerox machine, about to make copies.

The confederate asked one of three questions:

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I'm in a rush?” 

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”

The results: The confederate’s chances of influencing improved vastly by using the word “because.” In the first instance, 60 percent of those asked complied. In the second, where the word “because” was used and a reason given, 94 percent of those asked let the confederate skip them in line. In the third instance, where the word “because” was used, but no real reason was given and no additional information was provided, 93 percent still complied.

So if you lack the inclination to take a class on influencing, you’ve now got three handy shortcuts. Be fully present in your interactions, wake up in the Wonder Woman pose, and say “because.” Although they are three of the weirdest influencing tips, it can’t hurt to try them!

Jo Miller, CEO of Women's Leadership Coaching Inc. and founding editor of, facilitates the NEW Leadership Academy webinars designed to help emerging leaders core skills and prepare for top management roles in their organizations.

Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.

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