Effective influencing is a crucial part of the growth of any organisation, says Anita Douglas. Getting people to believe that your suggestions are in their best interests, can be the key to success.
Effective influencing is a key part of creating a positive culture and establishing a sustainable improvement in any organisation.
Influencing people successfully is far from an easy process, however, and there are no shortcuts.
But I am going to outline a model here that can help you to deliver excellent results.
To start with, there are many varied definitions of the term ‘influencing’ because we all view things slightly differently. I am a big fan of this particular definition:
‘The ability to affect another’s thoughts, beliefs, feelings or behaviour without force, and in a way that the person being influenced believes it is in their own interest’.
The last segment of this definition highlights the difference between ‘persuading’ and ‘influencing’. In both instances, we are trying to get someone to do something they might not ordinarily do. When persuading, we are using reason or argument, when we are influencing we want the other person to believe it’s in their best interest.
When trying to influence others, managers often jump straight in without a clear approach of what they’re trying to achieve. But effective influencing involves a series of five stages that you need to work through:
It’s crucial that you build trust and rapport by showing a genuine interest in the other person and communicating openly and honestly. Essentially, trusting someone means that you rely on that person’s integrity and strength to do the right thing, to the extent that you’d risk putting yourself on the line for them. If someone trusts you then you’re more likely to be able to influence them. Here are some ways you can build trust:
- Declare your intention and share information
- Do what you say you are going to do
- Assume a positive intent in others
- Give and take constructive feedback
- Maintain confidentiality
Next you need to understand both the situation and the objective of the person you’re trying to influence. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
So catapult yourself into their lives – what keeps them awake? What motivates them? What problems are they trying to solve? Only when you truly understand this, can you then connect the dots between what you want and what they want, using your proposal or ideas.
This is the conversation with the individual where you motivate them towards your objective in a way that they can see it is in their best interest. The proposal is what changes the individual or their behaviour – they have got to see how it links to the things that are important to them. You can achieve this by understanding our basic human needs.
- Significance – we need meaning and direction in our lives to feel special
- Certainty – we need to feel secure and know that our expectations will be met, along with understanding what’s expected of us
- Variety – we also want some novelty and stimulation in our lives
- Connection – we are sociable creatures and want to connect with others
- Growth – we want to develop ourselves and learn something new
- Contribution – we like to help and support people, making a difference to others
This is the stage when you reach an agreement on the proposal and create a plan of action. Make sure you hit the ground running and that everyone is fully invested in the plan.
Commit to following the proposal through and maintaining momentum. An effective way of achieving this is to create accountability and ensure the individual realises this.
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