Ten Tips to Effectively Influence Others

1. Set an outcome for what the other person will do, if you are successful in influencing him/her:

*** Flush out in detail what would really be ideal for you – even if you think there’s no way that ideal is possible. At a minimum, you’ll know your own goals, and you are likely to get closer to them than you think.

*** Consider the other person’s outcome(s). Are there ways you can include their goals in your proposal? What are the benefits and costs to him/her in doing what you want? Are there ways to enhance his/her benefits and/or lessen his/her costs that could still get you what you want?

2. Aim high when you make the first suggestion(s). Suggesting that he/she does even more than you might really want gives you room to lessen your suggestions, and makes it more likely you’ll get closer to what you really want in the final agreement.

3. Be congruent and confident as you communicate. Other people usually notice (not always consciously) your body language and voice tone, so if you’re uncertain in making suggestions, it’s likely that will come across. In other words, be as certain of yourself and your suggestions as you can possibly be. This doesn’t mean you need to be demanding or argumentative. It does mean that you present your position and/or requests as if you are certain that this is what you want. A quiet, solid, clear confidence is often your best attitude.

4. Consider your long-term relationship with this person or people. What impact will the results of this interaction have over time? What will your relationship with him/her be if your suggestions are implemented? What will it be like if the suggestions are not implemented?

5. Begin where they are, that is, acknowledging that they have a particular perspective that makes sense for them. This is best done by considering their mood and/or attitude, as well as the particular position he/she may have at the beginning of the discussion.

6. Consider the larger context. What factors might make it difficult for the person to do what you want? Can you develop some ideas that would minimize these difficulties, or better yet, turn them into advantages for him/her?

7. What might you be able to give the person ‘no strings attached’? This can be information, and need not be anything physical (such as a gift). Giving something can be a good move towards developing a favourable context, a move inviting reciprocity but be perfectly willing to have your ‘gift’ taken, without expecting anything back. So, it needs to be something you can give freely.

8. Be clear on what you would get if this person agreed to your request. That is, what would you benefit of influencing them so that you get your outcome? One way to determine your benefits is to ask yourself “What would have this done for me?” When you get the first answer, ask yourself the same question about that answer. You may determine a wider range of options that would satisfy you. This gives you more flexibility in making suggestions and/or requests from the person.

9. Are there any changes you could make to the environment that would make it more likely for the person to agree to your request? This is intended as a thought provoking question, i.e. to get you to think about factors you might not ordinarily consider. For instance, there’s some evidence that people are more likely to accommodate requests when they are eating (associating a pleasant activity with your request). Hence, a number of business deals are completed over lunch. Another environmental factor when influencing someone is to consider whether to discuss an issue on the phone, in person, or by e-mail. In many cases, you will get a very different response to the same request, depending on how it is made. Thinking of the environment in a slightly broader sense, for instance, could you persuade a colleague to be more cooperative? Perhaps this increased cooperation would make it easier for the person to take your suggestions.

10. It goes without saying that when you are successful in influencing, you’ll certainly live up to the agreements that you’ve made – both during and after the ‘influence time’. These agreements should be implemented as the other person understands them. This requires you to verify that your communication has been understood in the same way you intended it. The benefit to you is a long-term business relationship, in which you have established your reliability and in which you request the same. Atmospheres in which you trust one another makes better business sense for all.

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