“I feel like anytime you’re talking to someone, you’re influencing them.” the pretty woman said to me at a charity function for the Grammy Foundation in LA.
Her statement started to bother me the next day. What she said was on a continuous loop in my head and I couldn’t figure out why. Finally, it hit me.
But after sitting with it, I realized that there is a major flaw in that thinking.
Communicating clearly and being influential are related, but not the same.
Being influential equals communicating clearly.
(*For the most part this is true. However, there are influential techniques where you are intentionally vague in order to reach your goal.)
Communicating clearly does not always equate to being influential.
For example, I was at a house party having a nice discussion with someone. We talked about science, politics, and random facts. It was a nice conversation. He was definitely articulate and intelligent. He communicated perfectly well. But was I influenced in any way? No. There was no influential intention in our discussion. It was just a nice conversation.
Influence has a clearer cause/effect nature. When the moment really matters, can you sway another person’s opinion? Can you get someone to cut you a check? Can you persuade someone to do you a big favor?
I know good communicators who are not influential. What they say is interesting, but not compelling. An entrepreneur who struggles usually has this problem. Their idea is interesting, but their pitch isn’t compelling. A corporate leader might explain things well, but isn’t skilled at motivating their team. The team understands, but they aren’t engaged.
When someone takes in information but does not follow up with action, it means that you communicated clearly. You did not influence.
In the next article, I’ll talk about the type of evidence you can gather to help you determine if you are being influential in a conversation or if you are just communicating well.