Elevating, Influencing and Inspiring Others
Elevating, Influencing and Inspiring Others
We all want to be surrounded by inspiring people, right? People who feel validated, confident, and excited about life and the things they’re doing — people who, in turn, elevate us and inspire us to see a world full of possibilities. So what’s the easiest way to ensure we have people like that in our lives?
We create them!
We do whatever we can to inspire and elevate our friends, family members, colleagues and anyone else we frequently spend time with.
Now, if you’re reading this and thinking, well, that’s all well and good, but I’m no Oprah, don’t worry. Elevating and inspiring others is a skill that can be learned by anyone. Let me show you how…
Managing your own internal world
How well do you manage your emotions? Do you recognise your emotions and respond in a measured way…or do you react? Option two — reacting — tends to be our default setting. So often we’re driven by impulse, by our own underlying emotions. We snap at people when we’re stressed, tired, or anxious, we dive into the middle of conversations, or we make assumptions about what people are going to say before they’ve actually had a chance to say it.
And not only do these things potentially reflect badly on us, but they can also have an inhibiting effect on the people around us, leaving them feeling unheard, misunderstood, or lacking in confidence.
If we truly want to elevate those around us, the first thing we can do is manage our own internal worlds well enough to create space for others to talk. In fact, some of the most impressive people I know are comfortable enough in their own skin to be able to step back; they don’t feel the need to constantly impress others. They’re confident enough to realise that their very presence and ability to create space for other people is, in itself, an impressive quality — and it tends to be their skill in managing their internal emotions that allows them to do this so easily.
Breaking through the vanilla
So why is it so important to give people space if you want to inspire and elevate them?
It’s because it provides a sense of predictability, of safety, which, as you’ll know if you’ve watched any of my videos or read previous posts, is a huge part of human motivation. We all want to feel safe and accepted. So when you show someone that you’re going to give them space to talk, that you’re not going to judge them, they’re far more likely to take risks in their conversation, to show their vulnerability and let you see what makes them unique.
And that’s inspiring — for them and for you. Because all too often society, and other people, beat us down. They convince us that only certain aspects of ourselves are socially acceptable. They teach us that we have to conform. So we do. We learn to adapt in social situations but we take it too far and stamp out those (often really interesting) aspects of our personalities that others may find challenging. We become vanilla.
Elevating and inspiring others is all about adding some flavour to that vanilla; it’s about celebrating their uniqueness and creating the space for people to gain validation for the parts of themselves that very rarely see the light of day.
So how do we put that into practice? How do we learn to manage our own internal responses enough to provide enough space for the people in your life to break free of the vanilla?
By slowing things down
Slowing things down is really important in terms of moving us from our reptilian brain to our more-developed, more human part of the brain. You see, the reptilian part of your brain is concerned with one thing: your survival. Its only job is to keep you safe, and it does that by speeding everything up. And that goes back to early human history when we would have lived in very physically threatening environments and things had to be done quickly to ensure survival.
In contrast, by consciously slowing our reactions, we give our human brain, the part of the brain that’s centred on positivity, creativity, and reason, time to engage.
And we do that, by creating intentional pauses in our conversations.
Take time to pause
Of course, there’s a caveat here. If you take a pause after everything you say, or allow a huge gap after someone else’s comment, it’s going to come across as a little…strange. So it’s not something that you want to do to excess.
However, I have a little experiment for you
Why not try adding a brief pause periodically during the course of a conversation — particularly if you get the sense that there’s an additional layer of emotion behind what someone has just said. Or when, for instance, you notice that their glance has drifted off to the side or that they’ve parted their lips briefly. Those may be indications that they’re thinking of something else to say or that they have something else on the tip of their tongue.
Holding back for a moment could be the chance they were looking for to really open up and give you real insight into who they really are. Not only is this great for your relationship with that person, but it’s a vital way of validating them. And it’s that sense of validation that really elevates people and allows them to shine.
Putting it into practice
Getting over the discomfort
I do realise that as an experiment, this can be pretty uncomfortable. That reptilian brain, that wants to be doing everything at speed, is going to resist you slowing things down. To overcome the resistance, it can be a good idea to first try it out in a fairly low-risk situation.
Start out with close friends and family and see what happens over the course of a few weeks or months. And rest assured that the more often you practice your pauses, the more comfortable you’ll become. And as long as you do it sparingly, other people won’t be aware that you’re doing it at all.
Engage in active listening
We’ve all experienced times when the person we’re talking to isn’t really listening. Maybe they’re tapping their foot, playing with their hair, or glancing at their phone. Whatever it is, you know that you don’t have their full attention. And nothing stifles a conversation like the knowledge that the person you’re talking to is bored, or impatient to add their own two cents.
So, when you are creating these opportunities, make sure that you’re fully in the moment. You may have 20 different things on your to-do list but rather than think about that, or about formulating a response before they’ve finishing talking, try to focus not only on the words they’re saying, but on the emotions that might lie beneath them.
When you do this, they’re unlikely to notice the pauses. But what they will notice is the fact that you’re really listening — and that they’re able to fully express themselves.
The other vital part of your elevation experiment is to provide feedback, as well as pauses, during your conversations. For instance, you might want to paraphrase what they’ve said, to ensure you’ve fully understood. Or you might like to suggest an emotion to fit the situation, such as, ‘that’s really interesting, you must have been really excited’, ‘what was that like?’, or even, ‘wow, I can tell you’re excited just by the look on your face!’
These types of comment are great for promoting further conversation, but they also allow the person who’s speaking to connect more with the emotion behind the story. So not only do they recognise intellectually that they were excited about something, they actually feel the excitement as they’re describing it. They connect emotionally, and often physically, with what they’re saying, which gives them the chance to reflect on it and compounds the positive effect.
The validation, the positive feedback and genuine compliments helps create a solid platform for even greater achievements. They instantly feel elevated and inspired. And of course, the positivity you’ve just created in them doesn’t end there — it generally comes full circle, leaving you feeling excited, confident, and inspired too!
If you’re interested in learning more about learning to inspire and elevate others, we’d love to welcome you to one of our workshops.