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    Wednesday, June 17, 2020

    7 Signs You’re A Born Influencer

    An influencer means to directly influence everyone around you. From business to style and music to sports; you are a trendsetter. Although some may already know this, and have experienced firsthand their influential potential, there are many out there who may be completely oblivious to the impact they have on others.
    Fortunately, behavioral science suggests there are signs of natural born influence. Indeed, you could incredibly persuasive and not even know it.
    So to help you decipher whether you were born an influencer, here are 7 signs that indicate this wholeheartedly.

    1. Communication runs through you—effectively. You’re that person at work, at home, at school who keeps have your finger on the pulse of what everyone’s doing. You know Bobby likes Sally or Obi wants to fire Kenobi. As a result, everyone goes through you to figure out what is happening. Why? Because you offer genuine information. Others may be gossips or social climbers that offer distorted messages. But what you know and offer helps others achieve what they want (e.g., to ask Sally on a date, to send Kenobi on extended vacation, etc.) Georgia Tech researchers developed an algorithm showing if you play this sort of role in your social or work environment, you exhibit “betweenness centrality”. And while that seems an awfully nerdy thing to exhibit, it boils down to you being the person who probably cares most (in your group) about receiving and supplying the information others need. So you take it and you give it—straight, no chaser—without distortion.
    2. You offer information on a “Need-to-Know” basis. Born influencers, also realize too much information confuses others. So they regulate how much they tell. Their aim is not to manipulate, per se, but to reduce their counterpart’s confusion. This helps the latter make important decisions. Researchers at USC have shown that if you exhibit this sort of “influence through ignorance,” you’re a Jedi Knight of persuasion. By contrast, some people blurt all they know without discernment. When this happens, listeners might start feeling positive about a subject then turn negative on it—or vice versa. They get the wrong message. Why? Because someone gave them too much information.
    3. You’re a visible, high performer. While aiming for the brass ring, you’re probably unaware of your influence on others—but it’s there. Brain scientists from Oxford have found when people see high performers amongst them in the same job area, they’re encouraged to participate more in making the group succeed. In fact, they start to re-assess their own performance in relation to the high performer. On the other hand, this influence is maximized when the performer avoids egotism and egocentrism. The practical translation here is that there is some scientific basis for the dictum, “lead by example,” at least when the leader is humble.
    4. You express doubt on what you know and expertise on what you don’t. An example here would be good. Suppose you’re an expert on your mother’s cooking (or better be). And suppose you invite some friends over but express your doubts about the taste of a given dish she’s prepared. Your friends will find the dish more interesting to try. By contrast, suppose your are a professional movie critic and you suggest your friends go see a new movie after dinner. Paradoxically, they’re more likely to ignore your suggestion. Weird, but your expressing doubt about one area of expertise was far more powerful and persuasive than your expressing confidence in another. The practical implication of this effect is noted in a paper called “Believe Me, I have No Idea What I’m Talking About,” by a UC San Diego researcher. It suggests you are at your most influential when, knowing much about a subject matter, you humble yourself and admit any doubts, despite its positives.
    5. You use a lot of hand gestures. Pop psychology books all claim body language is a tell-tale influencer. While the jury is still out on that claim, scientists have found hand gestures can be so powerful, they influence eyewitness testimony for crimes. Experiments went so far as to show people would recall seeing a beard on the assailant if a questioner merely stroked his chin while asking for a description. The practical take away here is that a person with a natural tendency to emphasize with gesticulations (say, an open hand versus a closed fist when asking for a raise) is more effective at persuasion.
    6. You’re honest, helpful, hardworking, kind, intelligent, self- sacrificing for others and have a good sense of humor, and therefore, you’re more attractive. It’s somewhat obvious that beautiful people get away with things the rest of us don’t. Yet, you don’t have to look like Idris Elba to get people to listen to you. According to researchers, it’s enough to be sincerely honest, helpful, hardworking and all the rest. People then feel more confident in following your lead or taking part in your program. By contrast, people who are more self-centered, dishonest and narcissistic experience only short-term persuasive power that is quickly lost. Thus, even if you believe “good guys come last,” your good traits will, in the long-run, make you far more influential than the arrogant style traits of many professionals.
    7. You get excited when offering your ideas. I’ll admit there’s something attractive about a person sharing an idea with positive excitement. Now brain scientists have shown I’m not alone in having this feeling. Researchers at UCLA have found when a person shares an idea while she’s still excited, it’s more likely to become attractive to others and persuade them to share it. That’s exciting.
    The above lists suggests we may say things and do things that, unbeknownst to us, lead others to change their behavior. And while we might not think that suggests we’ve got charisma, gravitas or magnetism, we get our messages across. Our fingerprints are left on the work we do and felt by the people with whom we interact.

    Of course, you’d be right to ask: What good is all this if your dreams of influence are only modest? You may not have interest in doing a TeD Talk, but you’d like to convince your teenagers not to Vape. And you may not have high hopes of taking your CEO’s job, but you’d like your team members to respect your opinions.

    I’d answer the “good” is that if you recognize any one of these signs in yourself you can cultivate it into a “power”. And, with that power, if your heart is in the right place, you can do a surprising bit of good.

    Tony EwingContributor
    I write about risk-taking, disruption and the behavioral science of leadership.
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