How to influence from a distance

Mar 26, 2020

Can you influence from a distance? Without a doubt, but first you need to consider your environment and what triggers those around you. Liam Dillon tells us how.

In a normal working environment, we interact frequently. With the current ongoing crisis, we find ourselves having to work from home and meet up with people virtually to discuss plans and projects.

While everyone has their quirks, managing and influencing effectively from a distance can present its own set of problems. Here are five actions managers can take while trying to influence from a distance. This is simple and intuitive stuff but sometimes bad habits surface, especially when faced with such unexpected circumstances.

You do not need to be centre stage

Take an interest in what your team is saying about projects. It’s important to remember that you will get to say your piece before the conversation is over, but other people need to be heard even if they aren’t leading the team. Listen to the conversation, take in what they’ve said and add to it, passing the turn back to them to elaborate further.

By encouraging conversation, you are relaxing the environment for everyone, especially those who can’t see you face-to-face over camera. In fact, studies have shown that those who express an interest in what someone is saying and then follows-up with questions to encourage debate have a higher chance of influencing those around them.

Remember personal details

Forgetting someone’s name – especially someone on your team – can ruin rapport. Remembering someone’s name has been shown to make people more likely to help you, buy from you, and is seen as a compliment.

Let people talk about themselves

Whether we want to admit it or not, we love to talk about ourselves, and the last thing anyone wants is to be cut down, especially when they can’t see your face to judge your emotions. The lesson here is that if you want to make those you are trying to influence feel good, get them talking about themselves and their interests.

Focus on others

When introducing someone to a group, make them feel important by highlighting their skillsets and placing value on their thoughts and opinions. Try asking questions to delve deeper into their thoughts to get a better picture of who they are and what they can bring to the team; by doing this, you are encouraging each person to engage more in the conversation.

Find the similarities

We prefer people who are like us. We are more likely to become friends with people who we perceive as being similar to us. So, the rationale should be that we are more likely to listen and take into account the opinions of these people.Find the similarities with the people you are influencing: they are more likely to listen and take your opinions into account if they perceive you as being the same as them.

To influence is to know the other party, even if you can’t see them for the time being.

Liam Dillon is a Senior Consultant with Turlon & Associates.