When someone wields influence, or is able to effectively persuade others, it is a powerful skill. The ability to influence others allows us to be heard, effect change, manage and lead more effectively, and ultimately get us more directly to what we want out of work and life.
Consider “Andrea”: She builds consensus in meetings, and support for her ideas, and has a way of making a point, sometimes dramatically. She wins people over, grabbing people’s attention and telling compelling stories that make others want to hear more of what she’s saying. Andrea pays attention to the person she’s talking to or her audience, and adjusts her style and message to appeal to the listener.
On the other hand, “Andy” likes to work on his own and sometimes even resists the direction of the team. He is opinionated, but has a hard time getting anyone to see his side of the story. When challenged on his ideas, he “digs in” and keeps hammering the same points, which tends to alienate people. The rest of the team doesn’t have a particularly positive view of Andy, and lacks respect for him.
Here are some tips to be more like an Andrea than an Andy:
- Be clear about what you want to influence, and then plan your messaging and actions accordingly.
- Identify what motivates others, and craft a message that appeals to those motivations.
- Think through potential objections in advance and consider how you might be able to overcome those objections.
- Use data, statistics, and endorsements from respected authorities to support your case.
- Use effective storytelling techniques to paint a picture and engage others in the story.
- Use inspirational appeals that connect with others’ emotions, values, and ideals.
- Learn to develop a rapport with others so they will be open to your ideas.
- Build a coalition of supporters and develop strong relationships throughout the organization and externally to the company.
- Ask for help when necessary and understand what is in it for the other person.
- Frame your messages so they make sense to the other person – avoid complicated language and jargon, and explain your reasoning so they can follow your conclusions.
- Try a consultative approach – get others involved early in discussions and decisions so they feel some ownership.
- Appreciate contribution and support and acknowledge people.
What techniques do you use to increase your ability influence events and outcomes?