Influencing others is a skill you need to run a successful firm. “Others” may be staff, contractors, or even unconnected people (networking groups, trade associations, even clients). If you can improve your influencing skills you can get more done for you, probably earn more and certainly have a more comfortable life.
I was recently conducting some research and asked a range of people about influencing skills. I was quite surprised to hear some of the feedback, when I asked “Tell me about your influencing skills”:
- “I wouldn’t like people to think I try and influence others, it has negative connotations.”
- “It’s about being noisy and brash, I don’t want to be thought of like that.”
- “I tend not to be the life and soul of the party, so I don’t have much influence over others.”
- “I tell my staff what to do, I don’t see that as the same as influencing them. So I don’t need to worry about influencing skills.”
A recent holiday conversation
One of my recent holidays was on board a boat. All the people vaguely knew each other, some were good friends, and all got on well over the week. What’s more the diving was superb, the client service out of this world and the sales skills shown by the skipper were sublime.
Towards the end of the week I overheard a conversation:
“A couple of noisy people seem to drive what goes on and get the group to do what they want.”
“Yes, Fred for example.”
“Fred?! No, He’s very nice, polite and quiet.”
“Well, just watch how many of the decisions taken by the group go the way he wants.”
It was true. The quiet person had a huge influence on the group, without brazenly attempting to do so. He may not even be aware of his influencing skills or using them consciously – but he did have huge sway over decisions. The same influencing skills are relevant at work, as well as with friends.
Why influencing skills are useful for you
Influencing others isn’t telling them what to do, or to forcing them into doing something.
So influencing skills will help you to get people to be more likely to do what you want, of their own accord. The result tends to be that they will do it more effectively and you are more likely to get the result you want. That could be:
- More sales
- Staff working the way you want
- Networking groups operating in a more productive way
How else would positive use of influencing skills help you?
5 tips to improve your influencing skills
- Don’t just listen, acknowledge. People are far more willing to come halfway (or more) if they feel acknowledged, understood and appreciated. At least be prepared to listen, genuinely. Download our active listening guide, it's free and waiting for you to download right now. Click here for instant access (email address required).
- Ask questions, rather than give direct orders when possible. They may well “work out” the answer for themselves and be more committed to it.
- Talk in terms of their interests, and be genuinely interested in them. At what level are your interests the same?
- Don’t dismiss real differences or give up on the objectives. This simply stores up problems or allows the current situation to “go underground”.
- Get clear agreement on your joint position. Agree on next steps and timelines. Express appreciation for their cooperation and support, whatever the outcome!
Download our six page free guide to improving your influencing skills, it's free and waiting for you to download right now. Click here for instant access (email address required).
Influence can (like everything) be used positively or negatively. What are the best techniques you’ve ever seen to influence others in a positive manner?