Feature | career
decisions and their view of their own expertise and that of the person they are attempting to influence all impact on how influential a given style will be. Regardless of your preferred style influencing skills can definitely be developed. I recently worked with the CEO of the Australian arm of an international company who had been lobbying unsuccessfully for three years to close one of the branch offices as a way of improving the financial performance of the company. After learning a number of new influencing skills relevant to the level of board presentation, he received the board approval that he needed on the spot. I have also worked with many technologyfocused clients pitching for multi-million dollar projects where those involved would certainly not describe themselves as ‘people people’. Yet once they learnt the simple steps to influencing they too have won their bids. In order to improve your power to influence you must appreciate that not everyone will be influenced by the same things and in the same way you are. It is critical then, to learn ways of flexing or adapting your influencing style to suit the needs and decision-making behaviour of your stakeholder. As well, it’s close to impossible to influence others based only on an understanding of I-Styles. If you are serious about increasing your chances of hearing the word ‘yes’ then you must also seek to develop specific influencing skills in your influence toolkit.
Top influencing tips
1. Build your credibility over time: Your personal credibility has a significant impact on your degree of influence. Your credibility is determined by such things as your self-confidence, presence, charisma, experience, work networks and skill level. Solid credibility gives you a solid foundation on which to plan an influential
communication strategy. 2. Be connected: Be clear in your mind about the basis on which there is the potential for a connection between you and the people you would like to influence. In other words, why do others need what you have to offer or why should they change in the way you would like? What is the strategic value of what you have to offer? Apart from anything else, if you are really clear about this you will have more success in matching your influencing style to the situation. 3. Build rapport: Zig Ziglar famously said: “They don’t care what you know until they know how much you care”. Work on your rapport-building skills because others cannot be persuaded unless they feel an affinity with you. Rapport is about, trust, a common connection, mutual understanding and a functional relationship in which both parties feel at ease. Rapportbuilding is a science and there is much to learn for those to whom it does not come naturally. 4. Be assertive: Powerful influencing requires a high degree of assertiveness. In the 21st century people are much less likely to allow people with authority to dictate. Yet an unassertive person will not be heard in our increasingly competitive world. So, communicate your needs or position in a clear, direct and concise way whilst being sure to show respect for the position and feelings of others. 5. Develop persuasive language: Language is a powerful tool in your influence toolkit. Learn how to use linguistic
devices such as: alliteration; anaphora; tricolon; epistrophe; power words; and joining words to increase your influence. 6. Use social Influence: Take time to understand and apply Cialdini’s six principles of social influence: 1. Social Proof – we look to what others do to guide our behaviour. 2. Reciprocity – we feel obligated to return favours performed for us. 3. Commitment and Consistency – we want to act consistently with our commitments and values. 4. Authority – we look to experts to show us the way. 5. Scarcity – the less available the resource, the more we want it. 6. Liking – the more we like people the more we want to say yes to them. There are a variety of approaches to influencing worth learning and trying throughout your day at work. Remember, it doesn’t matter how good your company is, how good your products or service are, how good your ideas are or how good your message is if no one’s listening. Influencing techniques will help you ensure your message is heard and will increase your chances you hear the word ‘yes’ more often in your life.
Michelle Bowden is one of only 25 female CSPs in Australia (the highest designation for conference speakers in the world). She’s also a 4-time nominee for the Educator Award for Excellence and the author of Don’t Picture me Naked – how to present your ideas and influence people using techniques that actually work. www.michellebowden.com.au