Influence effectively

It would be nice if we all agree all the time. The reality is that others often don’t see things the way we do. This is potentially good if we can get an outcome better than from only one point of view. For that to occur and for our point of view to count, we need the appropriate influence skills.

  • Understand the person’s normal style, and observe for signs of stress. The former occurs when they are in their preferred conditions and the latter when the conditions are not what they prefer. There is a long list of factors. Different schools of thought prescribe different variables. These include relating to people individually or in groups, to sense of time and activity, to concepts or details, to people or tasks, and many others. At any one time, one or two factors will probably stand out.
  • Be versatile. Practice a wide range of influence methods. Observation suggests that many peole are one-trick ponies when it comes to influencing. They use one method when they should have a repertoire. Examples of influence techniques: socialising, being friendly, quid pro quo, association with someone important, consultation, appeal to values, enforcing rules and regulations.
  • Apply the appropriate technique to the person and his situation. The most effective technique is not what we are best at, but the one which best suits the situation.
  • Open yourself to influence. There is no chance of influencing someone if you are not open to influence yourself by others. A colleague in consulting had a very high opinion of himself, and never opened himself to other people’s ideas – he always found a reason why they didn’t work, but often came back with the same idea, calling it his own. His colleagues did not want to work with him.
  • In another situation a CEO was very frustrated with a direct report. This person knew his work and business well, but his dealings with others was weak because of his strong self-concept. Once day at the end of a one-on-one meeting I quietly asked him, “How’s your relationship with the CEO?” He was quiet for 5 minutes and I waited for him to reply. When he replied that it was not going well and he would like to know how to improve that relationship, I explained that not being open to influence by the CEO was the issue for him to resolve. After that the CEO came to see me and asked what was the big secret in this person’s change of behavior.
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