Have you ever struggled to effectively communicate an idea or to make an impression during a job interview? Have you ever completely bombed a sales pitch?
If so, you’re not alone; almost every entrepreneur has faced similar challenges. However, successful leaders learn how to overcome the barriers to their influence. Doing so requires you to do more than adjust your communication style; it demands a deep dive into the unconscious drivers of your behavior and your hidden beliefs.
For most people, this call to action may seem daunting. Luckily, keynote speaker, entrepreneur and best-selling author René Rodriguez has already done the legwork. In his most recent book, Amplify Your Influence, Rodriguez reveals how entrepreneurs can use self-discovery to improve their communication and increase their influence.
Discover your hidden drivers.
We like to think we understand what motivates us, and why we behave the way we do. Rodriguez says it’s not so simple. Rather than consciously making decisions, he believes we act according to certain hidden drivers, which makes behavior modification a challenge.
“Most people look at how behavior drives results, and so when we want to get new results, we try to change behavior, which is the biggest mistake,” he explains in a recent interview with Brilliant Thoughts’ editor Tristan Ahumada. “Because how do we typically respond to behavior change—acceptance or resistance? Resistance.”
As much as we wish that we could just change our behavior and get different results, all we end up doing is triggering resistance. Rodriguez says that if you want a different outcome, you have to address the deep-seated ideas informing your actions.
“What drives our behaviors are our beliefs,” he says. “If we were to pinch and zoom in and expand on that concept of beliefs, there’s a whole world of study that the foundation of this book is around, which is the idea that what I believe drives my behavior.”
Develop your inner storyteller.
In a highly commoditized world, setting yourself apart isn’t easy. To Rodriguez, the ability to tell your story in a compelling way is the key to building trust and connection with others.
“What I tell people is that the best speakers are the best storytellers, and the best storytellers are also the most reflective on their own life,” he says. “They’re also very present and mindful, and what I mean by that, and I’m not saying this isn’t a mindfulness exercise, is paying attention to all the things that happen.”
Personal storytelling isn’t about having an exceptional life, and it doesn’t require embellishment. It only requires you to dig deep into your values and experiences to reveal the meaning that’s already there.
“This is about uncovering what already exists,” he explains. “And if you can put words to it, and then draw the connection of where I started to what I do now, once those two connect, you feel the magic word of ‘purpose.’”
Control the narrative with intentional framing.
Rodriguez asks Ahumada what words come to mind when he thinks about a used car salesman, to which Ahumada responds, “sleazy.” Rodriguez says that’s the word that most people say (unless they have a positive personal relationship with someone in that line of work). It all depends on their personal experiences.
“We have to deal with the reality that when we say our profession, we’re triggering frames of reference that we’re not in control of,” he explains. “If I speak without a frame, I force my listener to construct the reality based on their frame of reference, which I have no control over and no insight into.”
Rodriguez says this not to pick on used car salesmen, but to illustrate how people have a preconceived notion of the type of person you are based on your career. One way to combat this is to lead with a personal, value-driven story about how you got to where you are.
Deliver a message that has value.
People who are constantly telling stories tend to have a polarizing effect on us: We either love them for their storytelling abilities or dislike them for taking up so much space.
“The one that we love has a message and a moral and a value at the end for me; it teaches me something, gives me something,” he explains. “The one that we hate is the one that just talks for the sake of talking and there’s no punch line.”
Rodriguez’ point is that you can’t just ramble endlessly and expect to build trust and connection. To truly lead and influence others, you need to share stories that offer listeners value, whether in the form of information, insight or entertainment.
After you’ve framed the narrative and conveyed a valuable message, you still need to contextualize it. This last step is what Rodriguez calls “the tie down,” and it is driven by your influence objective—the thing you’re trying to accomplish. In essence, the tie down is why your life experiences and values are relevant, and how they’ve prepared you to succeed in the goals at-hand.
Rodriguez believes that when we remember to frame our narrative, deliver a valuable message and tie it down, we stand the best chance of influencing others. That’s because true influence isn’t about manipulation or coercion; it’s about presenting yourself in a way that cuts through preconceived notions and opens the door for connection and collaboration.