Is your manager standing in the way of your next key investment? Are you frustrated that your team doesn’t follow your instructions? Is your spouse arguing over what vacation to take next, and she/he just won’t see the reason?
Every day we try to convince others to do things our way, agree to our decisions, buy from us etc. We wish we could convince them more often. We think some people were simply born with strong influencing skills, and others – like us - are not.
But what if issue is very important to you? Do you simply accept that you have very little chance of success? Do you sit there feeling frustrated, let down, maybe even angry?
Good news - there is something you can do about it.
Firstly, the ability to influence others is a skill you can learn.
Secondly, reduce the number of decisions you try to win. It’s actually not about winning or losing on everything. It’s about focusing on the things that really matter and being happy to give in on those that may be important to the other person.
So, are you ready to increase your influence? Read on to learn some techniques.
The following steps will help you prepare for the more challenging influencing situations and to simpler day-to-day situations.
1. Be clear on your goal
What actually do you want out of the decision? Sometimes you may not get the decision you were asking for, but still are able to meet the outcome you were looking to achieve. That’s what really matters, right?
In the vacation example, if your goal is really about wanting to play golf on an island, you could let your partner decide which island to choose.
2. Know the situation
Get to know what’s important to the other person, or know how they currently feel about the topic, and plan your approach accordingly. The level of preparation and planning here will be determined by the type of decision; the individual or group; and the amount of change required. Do your homework to understand their motivations, their goals, the impact of the decision on them. This can simplify your approach or fundamentally change the way you present your argument.
3. Determine your appeal
Each of us makes decisions in different ways. Understanding this will help you present your appeal in a way to which they can relate. The MBTI (Myers Briggs) tool categorizes those who make decisions based on objective data, logic and reason (T) versus those who make decisions based on personal values and harmony (F).
Another way to look at differences in appeal is through the way we associate parts of the body to decisions:
The Head - These people prefer facts and data to make decisions. Your strategy: focus on a few key bits of data that will matter to them.
The Gut - Here individuals respond to what is right in an objective sense. Your strategy: be clear about what you need and why it matters to them.
The Heart - They like to be involved, sought out for advice, and to see your own vulnerability and concerns. Your strategy: make a connection with them; the solution will become a fusion of both your ideas or at least appear that way to them.
The Soul - These individuals are energized by a common goal. Your strategy: look for shared values and how the decision supports a shared vision.
4. Plan for rejection
Even with your planning so far, you will probably not be aware of certain perspectives and concerns of the person you are trying to influence. If you don’t plan for push back on a point you are making you could not only lose the value of that point but the decision for good.
Think about alternative views to what you are presenting, develop your responses to these. What will you do if there is a negative emotional reaction to your proposal, how will you reduce the emotion rather than make it worse? Are you ready to amend your preferred solution to take into account information you were not aware of?
If you were clear on your goal at the beginning, you will be able to plan for unexpected inputs and changes to your proposal in a way that still keeps your goal on track.
Not every influencing situation or decision is complex, yet each one can lead to unexpected responses or rejection. By approaching them using these four steps you will increase your influencing success rate.