Is there a person in your life who is an endless source of frustration and stress?
Maybe even a group of people?
In working with several hundred independent contractors across the United States over the last decade I have found a solution to this dilemma that I would like to share with you.
Most of your frustration in dealing with people is this: you are seeking to control them, when in fact you merely influence them.
Once you realize this you will spend LESS energy on trying to control the people in your circle and place your efforts towards influencing them instead.
The only person you actually control is YOU. Think of all the married couples in which one spouse tries to control the other. It always backfires, if a husband wants something from his wife he is better off influencing her (maybe by taking her on a date?) rather than trying to control and dictate to her.
In my own marriage I gave up on trying to control my wife because by treating her well (positive reinforcement / influence) I found that we were both happier.
In business and sales I always used positive rewards and goal setting to influence and steer my team.
Take out a sheet of paper, on the left side write down all the factors in your life that you control, on the right list all the things you influence. How many factors that are stressing you out actually fall under the influence column? Once you realize that you have mere influence on a factor in your life that should eliminate the frustration and open up the creative pathways in your mind: Since I can’t control that factor is there a more effective way to influence it?
If you’re not sure whether you control something then by default you need to place it on the influence side of the list.
Influence can vary by degree, you can have minor or major influence on something in your life. The control side of the list is more defined, you either control something or you don’t. Control is very black and white.
Don’t confuse influence with manipulation, manipulation is yet another way to seek control, normally through illegal or unethical methods. The difference is simple; if a politician influences the election through speeches, actions, voting record, etc… he or she won honestly.
If that same politician manipulates the vote by tampering with the ballots or paying off crooked election officials they risk a scandal and ultimately the total loss of their influence.
So, how does one become a Jedi master of influence? That’s another blog for another day!
Benjamin T. Alexander