This article was written by Mike Brent and Fiona Dent and originally published on November 20, 2015 on www.ashridge.org.uk/insights
Influencing and persuading are two of the most important skills for effectiveness in both business and your personal life – whether it’s persuading the board to adopt your latest idea or encouraging a child to tidy their room.
We all tend to fall naturally into one of four influencing styles – collaborative, inspirational, directive or persuasive/reasoning. A collaborative approach can be effective when you need input from others to reach a satisfactory outcome, while an inspirational style works well when you need to engage people’s emotions and feelings in order to get them involved with your issue. Crisis or time-sensitive situations call for a directive approach, while persuasive reasoning can be useful when you know there is a ‘right’ answer to an issue and you can demonstrate why by putting forward a rational, well thought through case.
Being aware of your preferred style – and having the ability to call on other approaches when the situation demands it – is the key to success. But it is also important to be able to see things from the other side – and to understand how people like to be influenced.
These are the seven key factors you need to take into account when you are trying to get your ideas across, or bring someone around to your preferred approach or point of view.
1. Involve people
People want to feel that their perspective on your issue is being listened to and understood and that there is a mutual respect, honesty and openness in the relationship. They want to know that they are genuinely being consulted and that their contribution will be taken on board, recognised and will add value.
2. Demonstrate confidence
People like to see and feel influencers demonstrating energy, authority and conviction about their topic. Show confidence in the way you present your issues and ideas, and it will inspire others and encourage them to get involved and stimulate buy-in. Make sure you recognise that others may well add value to an already good idea.
3. Establish credibility
Having a good track record of success and being able to demonstrate knowledge in your topic will help you to establish your credibility and reputation, signifying that you are authentic and genuine in your attempts to get others on board with you.
4. Be ‘likeable’
Show appreciation of others by developing rapport and building a relationship that is mutually beneficial and based on likeability. Being liked is really important. People are more willing to listen to you if they already have a positive relationship with you.
5. Provide evidence
Be upfront with your facts and make sure you share data that is well researched. Help people to understand the rationale behind the issue and take care to show your reasoning. People need to understand where the issue fits and what the end goal is.
6. Be articulate
Be clear, articulate and concise. People want short, sharp explanations, and waffling certainly won’t be appreciated. Being straight with people, getting to the point and indicating your goals are all welcome traits when it comes to influencing others.
7. Show passion
Show passion in your ideas. If you are trying to influence others a degree of passion and energy behind the idea will indicate self-belief and confidence in your issue. This is a vital component for influencing and leading at any level.
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Mike Brent specialises in leadership, team-building, influencing, coaching, cross cultural management, leading change and personal development. His interests include how to foster self-awareness and creativity, and how to challenge effectively. Mike is widely published in the areas of influencing, coaching and leadership.
Fiona is an Ashridge Executive Education Associate and an Independent Trainer, Coach and Author. She spent 24 years on the full time faculty at Ashridge where she was a Client and Programme Director working with a range of organisations and clients, on a national and international basis. Fiona has written nine books including The Leaders Guide to Influence and The Leaders Guide to Managing People (co-authored with Mike Brent), and Women in Business (co-authored with Viki Holton).
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