How to Get People to Do … What You Want Them to Do

If this article title pulled you in, maybe you’ve recently realized that having a better tactic or using your charisma is not producing the influence you would have hoped. You’ve read the leadership and negotiation books and you’ve witnessed some disturbing YouTube videos that appear to prove you no longer need talent or a point to be in front of a camera. However, depending on your age and situation, one or more of the following all-consuming problems still remain: Your employees just can’t get the job done, your boss is a low-IQ narcissist, your parents think you actually want their life, your girlfriend is addicted to vampire books, your boyfriend is still a “skater-dude” at age 30, or your 22-year-old son has just told you “I don’t, like, see myself as, like, working every day at a job and stuff.”

Could it be that what works for others in the area of influence will not work for you? Over the years, Wynn Solutions (along with former Gallup researchers) has conducted anonymous surveys with thousands of extremely influential people who have a proven track record of motivating people to do what needs to be done. From them, we found the root of influence to be some foundational ideas that we often deem irrelevant.

Here are those ideas:

Are you proving to people that you see them as valuable? Have you told them that you appreciate their talent and could not have done so well without them? That’s very different from just saying “Good job!” And it’s not as ridiculous as saying “You’ll have a job here as long as you want one,” which seems to indicate that they will definitely quit – it’s just a question of when.

Are you being sincere but emphatic with your adult child who still lives at home? These days, over 50 percent of all adults 18-26 years old live with their parents. So if you are in your 20s and living at home, it’s pretty close to normal these days. However, if you have an adult child still living at home, not making a contribution, wearing your bathrobe, and wanting to know when more food will be arriving, you need to be forthright. You might say something loving but pointed, like this: “The only way someone else will appreciate you as much as we do is if they see you as self-sufficient. You and your generation have more opportunities and greater knowledge than any other generation has ever had. So getting out on your own (which will involve leaving this house, by the way) will cause the good things in life to come your way.” Letting them stay too long sends the message “We love you so much that we’re willing to sacrifice your ability to be a functional adult.” Being 37 and still living at Mom and Dad’s house is more than just pathetic; it’s creepy.

Do you have extreme clarity? Intelligence is not enough. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if no one knows what you’re talking about. The average IQ for an executive is 104, which is lower than the average for middle management. But if you think your boss is stupid, remember that he’s just smart enough to be your boss! If you’ve ever been to a Mensa meeting, you might have noticed a disturbing number of 35- to 50-year-olds wearing backpacks and a lot of crummy cars in the parking lot. Intelligence is just a small part of influence.

As for tried-and-true solutions, it all comes down to value.

  1. If you want to be influential, you must be able to clearly state your value(or the value of whatever you’re proposing). Clarity is the foundation of value. People buy into what they grasp quickly. The leading addiction on the planet is not drugs or alcohol or video games. It’s convenience. We will abandon a complex process that works for a mediocre one that’s easy but barely works. Simply stated, good ideas just aren’t good enough. Case in point: It took 40 years to get seatbelts in cars, but they green-lighted the Pet Rock at the first meeting. Spray cheese caught on pretty quickly too.We are influenced by things that sound good instantly, and nothing sounds better than what we seem to already believe. Making things very clear makes them familiar. When we hear something clearly stated, we will often say, “Oh, yes. That’s common sense.” But the truth is we did not think of it until it was very clearly stated. Clarity makes the stated value make sense. So if you think this paragraph has told you something that you already knew, then you are right and enlightened at the same time.
  2. To influence people under 30 years old, what you propose must make sense at a very basic level. This younger generation grew up with so much information thrown at them that you’ve got to be able to show them whyyou’re doing something. If it doesn’t make relevant sense to them today, they will question it and have difficulty taking action on it. If you want young people to come to work early, you need a real business reason – not just that you like to get to work at 7:30 a.m. and don’t particularly care for loneliness.
  3. The key to getting people to do what you want them to do is understanding what they value. In its clearest, simplest form, what they value is love, money, and prestige. If they can get that from you, they’re willing to listen and take action. Unfortunately, most people believe they need to outsmart others to get them to take action. So if you’re upset because you think the world is run by idiots – well, you might have a point. Most research shows that it’s easier to simplify things so you can compete. The truth is that when it comes to getting people to take action, in many cases, explaining your value is more valuable than actually having it.
  4. It all comes down to engagement. You may have heard the term “employee engagement” or “client/customer engagement” and just viewed it as corporate buzzword, but it’s the ultimate foundation of success. Engagement is what this article is really all about. You need real personal influence to make it happen. It’s hard to be successful at your job if you think no one at work cares about you (especially your boss). It’s difficult to write a check to someone who does not value you as a person. So the key word that ties it all together is value. The way to make sure people see your value and are willing to make a decision that will benefit you is to show them that they are valued. Then you have a level of engagement; you also end up with a minimal amount of haters. There is always that one person who hates success, Christmas, pizza, vacation days and money (your money, of course, not theirs).

According to Evolve Performance Group, an organization run by former Gallup executives and researchers, engaged employees are 40 times more likely to say they would recommend their company as a great place to work, and 4.5 times more likely to recommend their company’s products and services. So not only is being influential the best way to get people to do what you want them to do; it’s something you have to do just to compete.

The idea is to position yourself up front with all the influence tactics you can and then throw all your effort behind that. This strategy is central to a story I often tell about a speaking engagement I had at a convention years ago. My wife was in the audience for my event. She’d just heard me speak and she was clapping – yes, even after a few years together, she still applauded (maybe because I was through talking). In fact, she clapped so hard that she lost the diamond in her ring, but she didn’t know it at the time. So the next day she goes back and starts searching all along the 10,000-square-foot parquet floor. The custodians have already swept and mopped. Twice. Nothing has turned up. Everyone’s thinking, “Lady, you’re never going to find it.” But my wife insists, “I’m looking anyway.” So she’s on the ground, face to the floor, searching, searching… She’s sucking up dust bunnies for a full hour and a half before she spies a little glimmer from across the room. And there it is! In the end, we walked away with two big lessons. First, if something is important enough to you – if you believe in it enough – then the effort, skill, talent, and ability generated from your body and channeled into achievement is amazing. But also, if you buy a r-e-a-l-l-y BIG diamond, it’s a LOT easier to find.

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