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How to use powerful emotions to influence

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Dale Carnegie once said, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”

Carnegie's right. While logic is obviously important, research shows all things being equal, people make decisions and change their behaviour based on how they feel about you, your ideas and what you do.

Understanding how emotions influence is a key component of Business EQ and helping others be successful.

Here are 7 quick ideas on how you can use powerful emotions to help people feel more comfortable about changing the way their operate.

  • Fear - People will change their behaviour when they recognise that sticking to the way they normally operate won’t bode well for them.
    How to use fear to influence: Help people understand what they stand to lose if they continue to behave the way they do, then show them how your idea/solution will solve their problems – hence taking away their fear.

  • Frustration - We all want our lives to be easier and excel at what we do. When we can’t do this the frustration we feel is a powerful emotion for changing our views and behaviour.
    How to use frustration to influence: Give people the opportunity to talk about what they find annoying about their work, how does this affect them? The more people talk about their frustrations the more they are priming themselves to be open to your solution and changing themselves.

  • Hope – While we all hate when work is frustrating the opposite of this is also true that on some level we all hope that it will get better.
    How to use hope to influence: Get people to create a vision of what their ideal job role, work day or solution would look like, then change your conversation not just to focus on their frustrations but on how your ideas will address their hopes for a better future.

  • Excitement – This is a great emotion for getting people engaged with your ideas and solutions.
    How to use excitement to influence: We all know that some people are excited by the latest shiny new innovation, while others are excited by the different things they will be able to achieve (at home or at work). The trick to using excitement to influence is quickly figuring out what excites your listener and focusing your conversation around their passion to enable them to drive forward the change they/you want.

  • Anger – This emotion is on the same continuum as frustration but is a step further up the scale. While it can be destructive emotion in a conversation if managed correctly this emotion is a very powerful influence for change.
    How to use anger to influence: The key to using this emotion is first to acknowledge it, and then, figure out the source of the anger. Use this information to help people determine their top priorities and “circle them” back to the emotion of hope rather than focusing on anger.

  • FOMO or the fear of missing out - This is really a subset of general fear based on not being aware of threats to ourselves or fear of not being part of a successful group.
    How to use FOMO to influence: Show examples of what people in similar situations have gained by following your lead and what they will miss out on if they don’t change their behaviour or view.

  • Desire to be first - Is about tapping into people’s competitive nature or drive that pushes them to be successful.
    How to use desire to be first to influence: Appeal to people's desire to win by framing your argument in terms of how following your lead/solution will enable them to perform better than others and help them get to the number one spot.

Understanding emotions so we can use our Emotional Intelligence can be the most potent weapon in our armoury. It helps boost our self-awareness, self-control, motivation, empathy, and social skills, all of which help us become much better leaders and our businesses become more successful.


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