A Person of Influence...Understands People

“If you can learn to understand people – how they think, what they feel, what inspires them, how they’re likely to act and react in a given situation – then you can motivate and influence them in a positive way.”

This week, I'll give you an overview of the next chapter in John Maxwell’s book, Becoming a Person of Influence, is titled,

Definition of Understanding:

Being sympathetically aware of other people's feelings; tolerant and forgiving.

Scripture on Understanding People:

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." ~ Ephesians 4:29

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." ~ Romans 12:10

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." ~ Ephesians 4:32

Why Do People Fail to Understand Others?

1) Fear

“Neither despise or oppose what thou dost not understand” – William Penn

Here are some reasons why employees are reluctant to suggest ideas:

  • They think their ideas will be rejected.
  • They feel co-workers won’t like the ideas.
  • They think they won’t get credit if the ideas work.
  • They’re afraid the boss will be threatened by the ideas.
  • They’re concerned that they’ll be labeled as troublemakers.
  • They’re afraid of losing their jobs if they suggest ideas that don’t work.

2) Self-Centeredness

“Changing your attitude from self-centeredness to understanding requires desire and commitment to always try to see things from the other person’s point of view.”

What should our priorities be when dealing with other people?

  • The least important word: I
  • The most important word: We
  • The two most important words: Thank you.
  • The three most important words: All is forgiven.
  • The four most important words: What is your opinion?
  • The five most important words: You did a good job.
  • The six most important words: I want to understand you better.

3) Failure to Appreciate Differences

“If someone has a talent that you don’t have – great! The two of you can strengthen each other’s weaknesses. If others come from a different culture, broaden your horizons and learn what you can from them. Your new knowledge will help you relate not only to them, but also to others.”

4) Failure to Acknowledge Similarities

“As you learn more about people and get to know others well, you soon begin to realize that people have a lot in common. We all have hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, victories and problems.”

“The biggest mistake you can make in trying to talk convincingly is to put your highest priority on expressing your ideas and feelings. What most people really want is to be listened to, respected, and understood. The moment people see that they are being understood, they become more motivated to understand your point of view.”


Things Everybody Needs to Understand About People

1) Everybody Wants to Be Somebody

“There isn’t a person in the world who doesn’t have the desire to be somebody, to have significance. Even the least ambitious and unassuming person wants to be regarded highly by others.”

2) Nobody Cares How Much You Know Until He Knows How Much You Care

“If you want to help others and become a person of influence, keep smiling, sharing, giving, and turning the other cheek. That’s the right way to treat people. Besides, you never know which people in your sphere of influence are going to rise up and make a difference in your life and the lives of others.”

3) Everybody Needs Somebody

“What people can accomplish by themselves is almost nothing compared to their potential when working with others. And doing things with other people tends to bring contentment.”

4) Everybody Can Be Somebody When Somebody Understands and Believes in Him/Her

“When was the last time you went out of your way to make people feel special, as if they were somebody? The investment required on your part is totally overshadowed by the impact it makes on them.”

5) Anybody Who Helps Somebody Influences a Lot of Bodies

“What you give to one person overflows into the lives of all the people that person impacts. The nature of influence is to multiply.”


“When the other fellow takes a long time, he’s slow.

When I take a long time, I’m thorough.

When the other fellow doesn’t do it, he’s lazy.

When I don’t do it, I’m busy.

When the other fellow does something without being told, he’s overstepping his bounds.

When I do it, that’s initiative.

When the other fellow pleases the boss, he’s an apple polisher.

When I please the boss, it’s cooperation.

When the other fellow gets ahead, he’s getting the breaks.

When I manage to get ahead, that’s just the reward for hard work."


My 3 Takeaways on how to become a person of influence by being someone who Understands People:

1) I had never seen the “Most Important Words” quote before. That is one that I will print off and tape to my computer screen…powerful reminder of the life-changing opportunities we have with our words – both positive and negatively.

2) As different as people are from one another, at our core self, our desires to know and be known, to love and be loved, and to be understood are very similar.

3) I was reminded that our influence on others has a ripple effect. Once someone has experience what it’s like to be understood, heard, and accepted, there is a greater chance that they will turn around and offer the same to someone else. One simple act of kindness and love has the potential to positively influence the lives of many, many others.