If you want people, especially your peers or your boss, to be open to your influence, think about asking an insightful question at just the right time. An example might be in the midst of a long drawn out meeting where no real progress is being made and the underlying issue is not being discussed. Raise your hand and when there is an opening in the conversation ask, “May I share an observation?" You may get some puzzled stares or even a few looks that could kill. No worries; trust your instincts, let the silence work in your favor and stay the course.
Influential disruptors find their confidence in believing that to create space to focus on real issues and strategic priorities is to be influential.
Redirect the conversation by asking; “What are the real issues we should be talking about and what’s getting in the way of that?” If you believe you know, you may assert, “I think the question we should be considering is How/What/Why… What do others think?”
If you get “ball control”, pass it, rather than score the touchdown by building on the good ideas that emerge. If at first you don’t succeed, and your good question doesn’t get any traction - try, try again (maybe later in the meeting or in the next meeting).
If you can stay in a thinking framework grounded in curiosity and collaboration, people will naturally seek your thoughts and ideas; you’ll become influential (think EF Hutton – “When EF Hutton talks, people really listen”).
Why is managing your thoughts, listening with curiosity and remaining open worth your energy? Because your ideas will get used more often and you’ll help your team spend time on issues that can really move the business forward. Over time, as you learn how to shift the conversation and focus, you may find your stress and anxiety diminishing as you gain more comfort with ambiguity. You may find the group’s energy and focus increasing as the team focuses on issues that are intrinsically motivating and worth everyone’s time and you may find people seeking you out to solicit your thoughts.