The ability to influence is a critical skill in today’s working environment. We all need to persuade and influence at many levels.
Leaders, in particular, need to understand the strategies and techniques that are essential for developing relationships with others in order to have more influence with them.
Organisations and management styles are quickly evolving to accommodate the changing world and workforce. The command-and-control, top-down management style is regarded as outdated, as are autocratic decision-makers.
Most best-practice organisations use team approaches, and empower workers to think and perform independently. Effective communication is more important than ever, especially as workers are encouraged to ask the question “why?”
Technology makes information more widely available and delivered more quickly than ever before, forcing leaders to move quickly on new decisions.
The more adept leaders are at the art and science of using influence and persuasion, the more likely the goals of the organisation will be successfully met, and with less frustration and resistance.
Influence and persuasion are wonderful tools for moving organisations and people forward, inspiring others to reach beyond their current borders and creating motivated teams.
The best leaders have a firm grasp on how to help people develop trust and ownership through the use of influence and persuasion.
What is clear is that no matter what your organisational position or what kinds of clients and customers you have, part of your success depends on being able to influence and persuade people over whom you have no official or assigned control in addition to those you do.
One of the most influential business books of the 20th century, Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People recognised this fundamental proposition as long ago as 1936.
His book may be summarised into four sections:
Fundamental techniques in handling people
Six ways to make people like you
How to win people to your way of thinking and
Be a leader: How to change people without giving offence or arousing resentment.
Clearly the fundamentals have not altered in over half a century.
We need to understand how our personalities and work behaviours influence our relationships in today’s organisations.
We need to develop the interpersonal and communication skills necessary for persuasive influencing. It is vital to recognise our own influencing styles and the impact they have on others as we seek to win cooperation and influence others.
Finally, we must learn how to empower others to succeed.
Some key messages in developing the ability to persuade and influence lie in the following top 10 tips:
1. Give in order to receive. The old cliché “there's no such thing as free lunch” is a fact of life. If you want to receive something, learn to pay for it.
2. Understand expectations. Have a clear understanding of what others expect of you and what you actually expect of yourself.
3. Build a positive atmosphere. When you create a “win, win, win” situation, you will start to win. When you start to think positively, your life will start to be positive.
4. Listening helps you influence others.
Listening is one of the most important necessities of human communication. If you don’t listen to people, you are missing out on one of the best ways to influence people. People will always listen to you when you listen to them. One of the greatest influencing tools is listening.
5. Admit your mistakes. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes, but do we all live up to them? If you make a mistake, apologise for it. If you are wrong, admit your error.
6. Give praise. Everybody enjoys being praised. People look for approval from others. You should only praise people when they deserve it. Make the praise as warm and sincere as you can.
7. Share the credit. When others have helped you accomplish something, share the credit with them, even if their contributions were not as great as yours.
8. Care about people. People are concerned about themselves, and it is important for them to feel that others also care about them. People feel important when others care about them.
9. Don't criticise people in front of others. Public criticism will cause people to feel degraded and embarrassed, and they will resent you for doing that to them. If you criticise someone, criticise them privately and constructively.
10. Set expectations. Always give people expectations to live up to, not negative reputations to live down. This is an excellent way to motivate people to work for you.