Have you ever tried to get somebody to do something? Of course you have, you have staff, clients and family. You attempt to influence all of them. What is your natural influence style, push or pull, and what should it be? Have you ever thought about how you try to influence others? Here’s a simple thought to improve your influencing skills.

tug of war

The hotel lobby

I was early for a meeting and waiting in the lobby of a hotel, quietly drinking tea and trying to do some work. The trouble was I was fascinated by a discussion going on next to me. Have you ever tried to not listen, wondered what they’re talking about, who they are and what the outcome of their discussion is? Good, it’s not just me! The harder I tried not to, the more I listened.

It seemed like they were both in sales and that one was the other one’s manager. It was obvious that there were some attempts at influence going on, and going wrong.

One was clearly wanted the other to do something, what I don’t know. I watched body language that was expressive and outgoing, in fact it was almost aggressive, with lots of leaning in to the other’s space. I couldn’t hear everything, but there was a lot of proposing and stating of “facts” or at least assertions. It was as if she was thinking “I have a clear case to present which I can back up with factual and logical arguments, as well as energy and passion.”

The trouble was, the more she “pushed”, the harder the other person pushed back. As a result it was getting nowhere, other than moving towards an argument.

It apparently ended without conclusion, not a good example of influence at work. They clearly hadn’t read “Influencing skills: A 5 point checklist to improve your results” 

Learn how to attract, recruit and retain the RIGHT staff. FREE webinar on 23rd May. Click for more details

Pushing or pulling influence styles

What was happening was a lot of “push” influence style. That can be useful at times, but equally can provoke reactions. If you are attempting to push somebody else that has a strong push style themselves, they are likely to push back! Think about times when you’ve been working with people and they’re tried to push you. Ever been tempted to push back?

A push influence style is about asserting your views. A push influence style is typically used when

  • you know a lot and the other person doesn’t
  • you need a quick action (perhaps it’s an emergency)

The trouble is that if you push too much, or try to push somebody that is used to pushing themselves – they push back (like in the hotel). Download our six page free guide to improving your influencing skills, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).

The pull influence style

Pull influence is about appealing or creating appeal. There is lots of testing of understanding, questions, seeking information, or attempts at building consensus.

Typically this is about “pulling” or attracting people to your view point. You want to involve others and get their views and ideas about the issue. It works well when

  • You require commitment from others.
  • You want innovative ideas from others.
  • Your issue has no clear answer.
  • Push methods haven’t or are not working

Of course, this isn’t the perfect method of creating influence; if you overuse it with your team you may be thought of as ‘wishy-washy’.

If you keep pushing and they push back, try taking a metaphorical step back (e.g try a “pull style”). They will often move towards you.

Download our six page free guide to improving your influencing skills, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).

Push or pull influence – a conclusion.

Watching these two in the hotel lobby reminded me

  • Overdo either method, and you become less effective.
  • Think about the natural style of the other person, it may help you choose your tactic and how to influence them.

What’s you natural influence style, push or pull?

Learn how to attract, recruit and retain the RIGHT staff. FREE webinar on 23rd May. Click for more details

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access

Download our six page free guide to improving your influencing skills, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).