In our fast-paced world, where everyone seems to have an opinion and a desire to be heard, truly influencing others can feel like an uphill battle. We often wonder why our attempts at persuasion fall short, go unnoticed, or worse, create strife in relationships. This realization hit me hard during a phone call with my new colleague, Gina, as I drove home from getting a cortisone injection in my wrist.

“What happened to your wrist?” Gina asked innocently. Little did I know that her curiosity would unfold into a flurry of unsolicited advice and personal anecdotes about her own experiences with pain in her arms. Suddenly, I found myself bombarded with suggestions and recommendations, unsure of how to smoothly exit this unexpected turn in our conversation. 

Considering how little she knew about my experience, the doctors and practitioners I’ve seen, and the tests I’ve already gone through, I was surprised by her enthusiastic desire to help. The more she talked, the quieter I got. Until finally, she said, “this might be unsolicited advice.” Yes! I thought, recognizing our limitations in offering help when we lack a full picture of the problem.  Frustrated, I shifted the conversation onto the projects we are collaborating on and decided against sharing my medical challenges with her again.   

As I hung up the phone, I reflected on the encounter with Gina and the broader issue of influence. In our relentless pursuit of fixing others’ problems, we often overlook the power of listening. When our minds are preoccupied with thoughts like—”I already know/tried that,” “she knows nothing about my situation,” or even self-doubt like, “does she think I’m dumb?”—it’s nearly impossible to hear, much less consider, a new idea. 

Influence is not about overpowering or dominating others; it’s about fostering genuine connection and trust. It’s about being open to learning from different perspectives and recognizing that we all have unique journeys. In our fast-paced world, where everyone wants to be heard, true influence starts with humility and a willingness to step back, ask good questions, listen, and reflect what we’re hearing. By doing so, we gather the information (and build the trust) we need to influence. 

Remember, it’s not about being the loudest (or most helpful) voice in the room; it’s about being the one who listens with an open heart and mind.

Here’s to your greatness,
Misti Burmeister

Misti Burmeister helps companies and leaders motivate and inspire excellence. For nearly 20 years, she has facilitated communication that results in trust, increasing engagement and productivity across generations. Make sure your communication is coming across the way you intend, visit https://www.MistiBurmeister.com