The Art of Influence

For years people have been asking me how they can become more influential in work, in managing teams, and in gaining business customers. This is especially relevant for managers taking on new team members perhaps after merger and reorganisation, or for people wishing to be much more effective in meetings, in managing conflict, or wishing to challenge colleagues in a more positive way.

INFLUENCE, A MUST-HAVE

More and more people are learning how to improve their effectiveness by a better understanding of how to build rapport, how to be more aware of their non-verbal communication, and how to get more of what they want but without damaging valued relationships. This is especially true in our globalised world where there is apparently, only 6 degrees of separation between us all!

What we know is that we are influencing ourselves and others around us (and sometimes at a distance), whether we are effective or not. We cannot NOT communicate but WE CAN become much better at:

  • being more perceptive of others
  • utilising verbal and non-verbal communications
  • influencing positively
  • managing conflict productively
  • reconciling differences
  • problem solving with others
  • relationship management
  • achieving targets, and maximising outcomes

The art of influence requires a much more acute understanding of not only your own needs and understandings of a given situation, but also the perceptions and needs of the people with whom you interact.

One of the most powerful tools in an ‘Influencer’s’ armoury is the ability to see things from multiple perspectives. This gives you tremendous power and enables you to navigate these different perspectives, make sense of them, and then utilise them to get your own standpoint across more effectively.

One of the things we often get asked as managers and leaders is to look at things ‘objectively’. This implies that there’s an innate ‘truth’ in a particular position or opinion, but whose ‘truth’ and whose opinion?

Consider the picture below, I have been in audiences where 50% see one image and 50% see another, and even where one intriguing individual saw something completely different from either of the other two groups!

Old lady and young girl in same pictureSome in the audience could NOT comprehend the interpretation of the image of the other group… until it was explained and described… usually followed lots of relief and laughter.

Consider a situation where you need to be powerfully influential, but can’t quite get on the same wavelength as the person or persons you wish to influence. How could you go about:

  • understanding their needs, wants and any challenges they may have
  • understanding what this may mean for your own needs and challenges
  • finding where there may be a gap between the two
  • exploring opportunities for agreement
  • seeking a mutually satisfactory outcome

Why wait? Become the other person’s problem solver… they will love you for it!

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