Written by Mitch McCrimmon, Ph.D.
We all want to know how we can improve our ability to influence people. The problem is the starting point - our tendency to focus on our OWN needs, to get our own way with people.
No matter how skilled we are at using popular influencing tactics, people are likely to see us as manipulating them if we focus on our own needs rather than placing an equally strong emphasis on theirs. And the stronger their needs, the less likely we are to influence people by what might be called a PUSH approach.
Popular influencing styles:
- Raw emotion - blow my top, make them cringe.
- Rational persuasion - present facts and logic
- Manipulation - pretend to involve them
- Mental torture - pester until they give in
- Inspiration - dramatize everything
More influencing styles - all popular!
- Personal appeal -I draw on their loyalty or friendship.
- Ingratiation - I flatter them, pay them compliments, butter them up.
- Exchange - I do something for them in return, bribe them.
- Pressure - I get tough, demand action, use threats, coerce them.
- Legitimacy - I claim my rights, use my authority, cite the rules.
- Coalitions - I gang up on them, get my pals on side, get political.
- Packaging - I get liberal with the truth, exaggerate the upside.
- Sulk - I pretend to be hurt or offended until I get sympathy.
- Withdraw favours - I ignore them, cut them off, until they crack.
- These influence styles reduce to three...
1. Be demanding!
- Push people and you get short term gains and long term losses.
- Pressure gets immediate action but damages your credibility.
- The more fearful you make people the less useful they will be to you.
- Force is just one way of failing.
- Force only works when you are there to ENFORCE.
- Hence your influence is limited to those you can see.
- Force means regressing to childhood tactics.
- Who can look up to a child?
2. Using reason to get your way
- Works with disinterested or neutral parties because they have nothing at stake.
- Reason is still pushy --- you're trying to change someone else's mind.
- The more they have at stake in their position, the more you can be sure that reason will fail.
- Reason is one-way communication, amounting to "telling" or "selling".
- Asking people to "be reasonable" means asking them to see it your way.
- Pure reasoning sticks strictly to facts and logic, stressing organizational benefits.
- Reason becomes a bit more engaging when your arguments point out benefits to the other party.
- Reason, of course, often works but don't limit yourself to this influence tactic only.
3. Involving others
- This is the best approach, time permitting.
- Real involvement means seeking mutual gains.
- Start by trying to understand the other party's needs and interests.
- The key to influencing through involvement is to ask questions. Do more asking than telling and selling.
- Develop joint solutions with people rather than "reasoning" with them.
- Full involvement generates the highest level of commitment.
- Agreements are then negotiated rather than sold or imposed.
- Involvement builds mutual respect and greater trust.
- Involvement is harder work than pushing, telling and selling.
- Full involvement is as rare as full maturity - it takes emotional intelligence.
- More directive approaches only work when commitment is not important (when is that?