What's the magic wand to get things done?

In his latest book, Instant Influence, author Michael V Pantalon offers a five-step approach to influencing colleagues, friends, family and even strangers, in less than seven minutes. Inspired by Pantalon, we quiz desi working professionals on their mantra to influence others

While self-help guru Dale Carnegie's How To Make Friends And Influence PeopleĀ  (1936) taught you how to turn from a social pariah to everyone's best buddy, author Michael V Pantalon's Instant Influence teaches you how to influence others to get work done.

Illustration/ Jishu Dev Malakar

So, the next time you are struggling to get your employees to respect you, your spouse to quit a bad habit or a friend to make the right decision, you can apply Pantalon's approach of letting people do what they want to do instead of forcing them and thus, letting them find their own reasons to do something. He advocates a five-pronged psychological strategy of helping them identify a desired change, recognising why they might want to make that change, thinking of the positive outcomes of the change, identifying why the outcomes are important to them and making a change plan.

Instant Influence, Michael V Pantalon, Hachette, Rs 250. Available at
leading bookstores.

According to corporate trainer Anita Shantaram, the trick to influence others is indeed to make them feel the idea of change is theirs. "Whether it's an employee or a corporate head honcho, it's very important to be a good role model. That comes from taking objective decisions, working hard, being persistent and establishing a rapport with everyone. If people respect you, they are more likely to be influenced by you," she states.

It also helps to have a heart-to-heart chat whenever things are not going your way, believes Shantaram. "It's advisable to talk it through while being receptive to the pros and cons that may be offered as part of the discussion. It lets people know that you are objective and open towards different perspectives," she adds.

For adman and author Swapan Seth, a true influencer is someone who is engaging and inspirational. "In terms of advertising, we believe the product should be fine, have an engaging appeal and offer an inspiring proposition. That holds true for people as well. A true leader should similarly work beyond the call of duty, be inspiring and maintain a fine relationship with others. In order to get something done, the key is to do it yourself and set an example worthy of being emulated," he observes.

Don't overlook the fun quotient though, says Rajiv Wagh, Vice President (Marketing and Business Development), MCA Recreation Centre. "The secret to getting anything done from anyone is to make it fun for them and make them see their profit in doing so. Unless people see something in it for their own good, its tough to sustain the influence," he concludes.

Excerpts from Instant Influence
People usually act for their own reasons, not someone else's reasons. If they do change a behavior because of something someone else has said, most of the time that change won't stick. The secret of Instant Influence is that it helps people discover their own reasons for doing something, even something they thought they didn't want to do.

What makes people want to change?
If you're trying to motivate a reluctant employee to stop using his cell phone on company time or show more initiative in taking on extra projects, you might think that threatening to fire him, fine him, or otherwise punish him would be highly effective -- your own workplace version of "you have to". Far more effective, though, is helping an employee discover why he wants to comply with the no-cell phone rule or to expand his workload. Respecting your employee's autonomy and leaving the final choice up to him is likely to be the most effective strategy. The same principle goes for parenting. Our kids respond far better when they know they don't have to do something.

Instant Influence at a glance
Step 1
Why might you change? (Or if you want to influence yourself, why might I change?)
Step 2
How ready are you to change -- on a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 means "not ready at all" and 10 means "totally ready"?
Step 3
Why didn't you pick a lower number? (Or if the influencee picked 1, either ask the second question again, this time about a smaller step toward change, or ask, what would it take for that 1 to turn into a 2?
Imagine you've changed. What would the positive outcome be?
Step 5
Why are those outcomes important to you?
Step 6
What's the next step, if any?

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