“Our influence is in direct proportion to our charm.” – Margery Wilson, Charm, 1928
Even though we aren’t aware of it, our lives are filled with a series of daily negotiations. Some of these negotiations are small, like ordering coffee and donuts from the local Krispy Kreme. Others are quite large, such as successfully getting our children to the bus stop fully clothed and with everything they need for school that day.
Our ability to successfully navigate these negotiations is highly dependent upon our ability to influence others…to convince others that our desires are reasonable and that they should go along with them. By cultivating charm, we are able to increase our level of influence. Without charm, we are merely manipulating other people.
Here is how to influence others using charm:
Over and over again, our mid-20th century mentors tell us that charm is about putting people at ease and making them feel good about themselves. I’m not talking about being “fake nice” (one of my pet peeves) but about finding a genuine connection where people feel valued.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather hang around people who make me feel good about myself. I know they will encourage me when I need it. They will also have deep belly laughs with me when I need those even more.
It works the other way, too. Just like I am always receptive to hearing requests from people who make me feel good about myself, people will be more open to our requests when we have an authentic connection with them.
It may seem like bullies are always getting their way. The truth is, however, that their influence is short-lived. They get labeled as someone to be avoided. Even if they have a genuine request, the knee-jerk reaction will be to put barriers up as a way to protect ourselves from their hostile energy. Their bullying prevents them from earning our respect.
For example, there is a professor who has attended many workshops offered by my office on various teaching strategies. When I first met her, I thought she was nice and didn’t understand why other professors were avoiding her. But I quickly discovered that she is “fake nice.” Underneath the image of having it all together is a mean-spirited person who is constantly stabbing people in the back. Word has gotten around about her efforts to manipulate others. She has basically destroyed her own credibility by her bullying behaviors.
By cultivating charm, we can establish authentic relationships with the people we encounter in our daily lives. As we go about our day, we should be on the lookout for ways to put others at ease or simply making their day a little better.
Do you have an example of a person whose charm enabled her to have a great deal of authentic influence?
Until next time,
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