“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
By American author and management guru, Dale Carnegie
Influence is the ability to affect a person’s mind or behaviour. It is the ability to make a person think in a certain way and move them towards changing their behaviours. The above quote provides a very important message about influencing people. The first step in influencing people is getting to know them better. Make friends and get people to like you. They will then be willing to listen to what you have to say and may even consider changing their behaviour.
Why do you need influence?
You may or may not be powerful but you will still need to influence people because you need to change their minds about the girl child and the equal opportunities she deserves in society. People in your village may not think is a serious problem. Many families may not consider antenatal checkups as necessary. These are strong beliefs and in order to change these beliefs it is important that you build your influence by talking to people.
Here are simple ways in which you can make friends and influence people in your village:
Get people to like you:
- Smile as a smile from your end will make the other person feel like you are interested in what a person has to say. A smile can also make the other person feel good.
- Remember a person’s name. Imagine if you met someone after a really long time and they remembered your name. Wouldn’t that make you feel nice? It is also important to take into account the age of a person before addressing him/her. For example if the person is older, use ‘ji’ after the name.
- Be a good listener: Listen to what other people have to say instead of making the conversation only about yourself. Listening to the other person will make them feel important. You listen to people, and they will listen to what you have to say to them.
- Be generous with your praise and make sure it is sincere.
- Respect the other person’s opinion: Even if you do not agree with it, do not criticize or condemn. Respect comes with reciprocity. If you respect and value the other person’s opinion, only then will they respect yours and see the importance and value in it.
Setting an example:
- Imagine a coach who is training his players for a football game, instructs his team to go for a morning run at 6 am and eat healthy food. However, the coach himself wakes up at 9 am and eats unhealthy junk food. What would you feel if you had a coach like that? You would not want to follow this coach right?
- That’s correct; it is likely that you would not trust such a coach. As a coach in your village, you must ensure that all your family members eat iron rich foods, and encourage pregnant women in your family regularly go for their ANC check-ups and take IFA tablets. Scientific research has shown that if people have a positive role model they are likely to imitate these positive behaviours. You and your family can be a positive role model for your village.
Build a rapport:
Having a rapport is when two people understand and trust each other, and can comfortably rely on the other for any kind of help or support. Building rapport with people is therefore very important to influence them.
- To build a rapport with people from your village, do not talk to them with only one goal in mind that you somehow have to tell them about anaemia and ANC today. People have a very short attention span; if you throw facts at they might get bored. Instead, ask them questions like what do they like do? Or how was their day at work? Trying to get to know more about the other person is the basis of a trustful relationship.
- Mirror the other person’s body language. It will show your agreement and your interest in the conversation.
- Never give orders. People in your village will not be motivated to buy and eat iron rich foods if you order them to. As a coach, you have to be inspiration rather than a dictator in order to be more effective in your goal.
- Speak slowly: When people speak slowly and clearly, they tend to sound more credible than those who speak quickly.
- Ask for help. When a request is small, we naturally feel a connection to those asking for help. This connection can then help you to talk to people more often and influence them.
Be an expert:
- Think about our leaders like Mahatma Gandhi or Babasaheb Ambedkar, each person exuded confidence and expert knowledge in their field. Expert knowledge gives you credibility. If you were sick, would you listen to someone from your neighbourhood or a medical doctor? Most people would listen to a medical doctor as they would perceive a doctor to be an expert in medicine and therefore able to give the right information.
- As a coach, you too, need to be an expert in the area of anaemia and antenatal care. Your mission is to convince people of the importance of anaemia and ANC. But it will be impossible to achieve this mission and influence people to change their behaviours, if you yourself do not know much about these behaviours and the need for change. Refer to the chapter on life-long learning to improve your knowledge base and become an expert.
Plead for a larger cause:
- People are more likely to be influenced by you, if you plead for a larger cause. Therefore try to convey to people about your larger vision of a healthy Haryana. Refer to the chapter on articulating your vision for this.
- Discuss the importance of maternal and child health in building a healthy Haryana and also the grave implications of poor maternal and child health in achieving this larger vision.
- Tell people that by following simple behaviours they are actually part of a larger health movement in Haryana. A sense of belonging to a larger cause can not only motivate people to change but even sustain this change.
Follow these steps and be on your way to making friends, building trust and influencing people to think about creating an equal society for girls and boys.