Using Yourself Wisely and Authentically

How do we influence people and maintain our own authenticity? This is a question that many people ask in the Authentic Leadership 1 course. The idea of remaining true to oneself seems hard enough. When we add influence, many people throw their hands up and think it's impossible to do it authentically.

However, if we use the idea of self-styles, it becomes much easier. Using different internal characters, we can find some character who can relate to the others empathically, some character who understands the situation from a different perspective, some character who wants to resolve the situation, etc. The trick or key to this is finding the character inside you that can help dislodge the stuck-ness or rigidity.


When you're in a conversation in which you want to influence someone to see the situation differently than they do:

  1. Listen to them deeply. To do this, you have to find the character inside you who is truly curious.
  2. Respond to them empathically. To do so, you must find someone inside you who really knows what it is like to feel as they do. You may not agree with them, but you have to access the part of you that has had similar feelings at some time in your life...or can imagine feeling like that.
  3. Through curiosity, find out what is most important to them about the situation or what fears they have about the possible outcome. Now, you are using your curiosity but you are also being a sleuth, looking for ways into understanding the other person more deeply.
  4. Relate to what is most important to them and/or to their fears. Think of yourself as joining them just where they are. When people feel met and understood, they are more willing to listen to your perspective. The ability to do this comes from finding a character who cares more about moving forward in a positive way than in being 'right' or in proving anything.
  5. Find out if they are ready and willing to hear your perspective. This character has a lot of patience and knows that waiting until someone is ready saves a lot of time and energy. It is much more effective than just jumping in.
  6. Propose a tiny step in the direction that you want to go and notice the other's reactions. This character knows that all journeys start with one step.
  7. Keeping engaging in an open dialogue, looking for ways that you both perceive positive movement. This character is optimistic and looks for what is working and what is good rather than what is not working.
  8. Celebrate with the other whatever small steps you made toward listening to each other and coming closer to an agreement that is a win/win. This character knows that gratitude and celebration are much more potent than negativity.

Practice this as often as possible and write in about your experiences.

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