Ten Tips to Effectively Influence

1. Set an outcome for what the other person will do, if you succeed in influencing him/her:
Flush with detail what would actually be ideal for you – even if you think the ideal isn’t possible. At the very least, you will know your own goals and you may be closer to them than you think.

Consider the other person’s outcome(s). Do you have ways to include their goals in your proposal? What are his/her benefits and costs to do what you want? Are there ways to increase his/her benefits and/or reduce his/her costs that still get you what you want?

2. Aim high when you make your first suggestion(s). Suggesting more than what you really want gives you the opportunity to narrow down your suggestions and makes it more likely that you will get closer to what you want in the final deal.

3. Be assertive and confident when you communicate. Other people usually notice your body language and voice tone (not always consciously), so it’s likely to come across if you’re insecure about giving advice. In other words, be as sure as you can be of yourself and your advice. This doesn’t mean you have to be demanding or argumentative. This means that you present your position and/or requests as if you are sure that this is what you want. A calm, hard, clear confidence is often your best attitude.

4. Consider your long-term relationship with this person or people. What effect will this interaction have over time? What will happen to your relationship with him if your suggestions are implemented? What if the suggestions are not implemented?

5. Start where they are, that is, recognize that they have a particular perspective that makes sense to them. This is best done by considering their mood and/or attitude, as well as the particular position he/she may be in 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 come up with ideas that might minimize these disadvantages, or better yet, turn them into advantages for him?

7. What might you be able to give that person ‘no strings attached’? It can be information, and doesn’t have to be something physical (like a gift). Giving something can be a good step towards developing a favorable context, a step to invite reciprocity but be fully willing to take your ‘gift’ without expecting anything in return. So, it needs to be something that you can give freely.

8. Be clear about what you will get if this person agrees to your request. That is, what will you gain by influencing them so that you can get your results? One way to determine your benefits is to ask yourself “What will this do for me?” When you get the first answer, ask yourself the same question about that answer. You can determine a wide range of options that will 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 that the person would agree to your request? This is intended as a thought-provoking question, meaning to get you thinking about things you might not normally consider. For example, there is some evidence that people are more likely to accommodate their requests when they are eating (adding a pleasurable activity to your request). Hence, several business deals were concluded over lunch. Another environmental factor when influencing someone is to consider whether an issue should be discussed over the phone, in person, or by e-mail. In many cases, you’ll get a different response for the same request, depending on how it’s made. Thinking about the environment in a slightly broader sense, for example, can you persuade a colleague to be more cooperative? Perhaps this increased cooperation will make it easier for that person to take your advice.

10. It goes without saying that when you succeed in influencing, you must abide by the agreements you make – both during and after the ‘influence period’. These agreements should be implemented in a way that the other person understands. This requires you to verify that your communication is understood exactly as you intended. The advantage for you is a long-term business relationship, where you have established your reliability and where you request the same. Atmospheres where you trust each other make good business sense for everyone.

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