Whether we realise it or not, we are influencing others all the time. Whether because we want them to do something, behave in a different way or to think for themselves.
How well do you think you influence others? In my experience, often the reason individuals feel they have not been as successful as they hoped, is they have not prepared for the conversation. Being able to influence others successfully is an important skill both in business and in life. Here are three steps you can take to influence others in your life, starting today.
1. Be a Role Model. Don’t underestimate how much people are watching you. Others will not believe your message if they do not believe in you as the messenger. Think about how you show up, how you communicate your principles and values and how you behave. What do those you want to influence need to believe about you?
Imagine you want to influence your team member to be more pro-active, rather than relying on you. A good way to start is being pro-active yourself and actively demonstrating this. Help your team member think ahead, to plan and to be open to creating new opportunities.
2. Get them to think differently. Jonathan* needed to influence one of his clients. He had worked with this client, as a consultant, for a number of years and had developed a good relationship. However, the client was now questioning whether they should remain with Jonathan or put the new project out to tender. The client, although pleased with the way the previous project had gone, requested a different style of consultancy. They wanted more challenge. They wanted push back. They wanted to be stretched. Jonathan needed to influence his client that he was the best person for the project. This was an important opportunity and Jonathan wanted to succeed.
Knowing what the client wanted, Jonathan acknowledged their requirements. He thought about the way he could get them to think differently about him. About how he challenges them and how he would provide the stretch for them. He also thought about how he could communicate the benefits of them thinking differently.
Jonathan influenced his client successfully by role modelling a calm composure and listening attentively. He changed his client’s thinking about ‘a challenging approach’ from an unpleasant experience where tension arises and others feel not listened to, to creating an environment for the client to think for themselves. Jonathan helped the client recognise the benefits of his approach and that of being a thought partner. Through Jonathan’s powerful questions he provided the challenge, the stretch and the opportunity for his client to think with more courage and rigour than ever before. The client signed the contract and were delighted with the outcome.
Getting people to think differently will require you to think and prepare for this conversation. Think about a particular person or group you want to influence. Think about how you could get them to begin to think differently. Think about what they would need to believe to think differently. Think about how to stop them thinking in competing ways. Think about the benefits they would get in thinking in the new way.
3. Challenge them. When you challenge someone, you influence them. By providing a challenge you create an opportunity for them to stretch their thinking, skills and abilities. Done in the right way, this is motivating and inspiring.
Think about someone you want to influence. Think about a challenge that you could provide as an exciting vision. Think about what it will demand of them. Think about how it will benefit them. Think about how you will communicate this challenge to them.
Richard* wanted to influence his team to work more collaboratively. He shared an exciting vision of what a successful team looks like when working together collaboratively, how they feel and the results they achieve, based on his experience. He shared with them the benefits of working in this way. He acknowledged their current way of working and attributes and reflected on where they could capitalise. This included communicating more regularly and openly with each other, reducing the amount of emails and physically going to speak with each other and listening attentively, without interruption so the other person felt heard. He invited them to take up the challenge of doing these 3 things. Richard’s team have risen to the challenge and are experiencing the benefits of working more collaboratively.
Being able to influence others successfully is an important skill in business and in life. As with all skills, it takes time to develop and requires practise. I challenge you to try out these three simple steps to develop your influencing skills even further. Let me know how you get on; I’d love to hear from you.
*The names have been changed for confidentiality.