We all have a boss, peers and others we need to influence and persuade on occasion. Becoming successful requires an individual to work efficiently with managers, colleagues, and subordinates. What is one quality that is at the core of such effective collaboration? Influence and the ability to persuade others!
Influence can be explained as the capability to drive people to do something that will achieve valuable objectives. In a professional environment, these objectives could range from selling a product or idea, convincing peers to deliver support or resources, or applying new strategies. If you want to practice the art of influencing, you need to develop the skill to figure out ways to provide win-win solutions to problems. Such solutions are ones which work well for you, your peers, and the organization. One of the basic rules of persuasion is that people want favors to be reciprocated. It is essential that when you face difficult situations, individuals or groups, you will work out a strategy in which everyone wins.
There are four aspects of influence: gaining support, persuasion, presentation, and goal focus.
To gain support from coworkers or managers, they must respect you. This doesn’t mean that you have to be obsessed with trying to be the best person everywhere – that would be too exhausting – but that you should be in the good books of colleagues. Does this mean that you will automatically get what you want? No, but it will put you in an excellent position to achieve your objectives. If people like you, they are more likely to give you a chance to reach out to them for assistance or guidance. Building personal connections with colleagues by letting them get to know you, by showing them respect, and your ability to be helpful to them goes a long way towards gaining support.
Persuasion is the art of altering a person’s attitude, opinion or beliefs in the direction of a predetermined outcome. It is different from negotiation where the other party may be compromising – effective persuasion actually encourages voluntary compliance and convinces the individuals or groups to leave their previous position and embrace the one that you are championing. Persuasion is a process which involves presentation of arguments with the aim of moving, motivating or changing your audience. In the work arena, a business leader can take advantage of persuasion skills in many ways. Persuasion may involve winning the hearts or the minds of individuals. Depending on the situation, you will need to determine whether it is more important to win hearts or minds to gain people’s trust and influence their opinions. This can be quite difficult – after all, human beings are complex creatures with a range of problems and mindsets. In many circumstances, you will be using both the approaches, but it helps to know which one should be more dominant.
How to win hearts
To do this, you will need to connect with others on a personal level. This may be achieved by incorporating lively descriptions and interesting metaphors to engage people’s attention and make them see things from your perspective. You could use some personal experiences to convince them that what you are recommending is the correct choice in those particular circumstances. Also, along with discussing how your idea can be effective, you can show how it can be specifically beneficial for the person you are attempting to win over, the company, or the clients. There are two things that you need to aim for: transparency and authenticity.
How to win minds
Alternately, to win minds, you will need to combine personalized discussions with logic and reliable analysis, which are well articulated. Your argument must be sound so that the others can be convinced of your perspective. Make sure that your message is designed and delivered well. A smart way to go about is to establish common ground is by talking about a situation that all of the listeners can relate to. Explain why it is essential and worthy of their attention. To have more significant impact, you should share your knowledge and expertise, including any proof of your observations. This includes information, research, analyses, and expert opinions gained through consultation. Always make it clear how the benefits of your approach can be tangible for the audience, the company and the customer.
How you present yourself plays a vital role in your influence. Those around you are continuously assessing whether you are trustworthy by observing your body language as well as your message. If you want to give the right message, your body language has to emit positivity and confidence and match the verbal cues in your message. For example, standing up with your back and shoulders straight presents you as a confident and commanding person. If you slouch and look downwards, a slumping posture, you may be perceived as someone who thinks and acts like a subordinate. These little things help convince people that you know what you are talking about and that your strategy is the correct way to solve the problem.
If you are known for your focus, determination, and expertise, your ability to influence at work will increase. Developing these qualities takes time and efforts. When people are convinced that you are good at focusing on goals and have the capability to achieve them, they are more likely to listen and take you seriously.
Being a master of Influence and persuasion is an important tool that can be deployed as the need arises both in your personal as well as your business life. Knowledge and practice will help you develop the skills and competencies to become a more persuasive person who is able to communicate an objective, develop a strategy to fulfill the objective and encourage others to follow your vision.
Want to work on increasing your influence? Check out this useful assessment today! It addresses the skills needed to gain support for ideas both personally and professionally using persuasion, motivation and influence strategies.