Tuesday 28 October 2014

The subtleties and politics of influencing

This blog arose from a request for a blog on this subject - my response at the time was "it's simply about getting the basics right".

I realise however we sometimes need reminding of the basics, and perhaps they're only basics if we're aware of them! After all if you didn't know the above door needed pulling you might very well keep pushing it wondering why it wasn't opening. Definitely likely also if you're thinking "But I don't do soft fluffy stuff" to which the answer in that blog (see link) is we all do fluff every minute of every day. 

As a trainer and coach I could write, and have done many times before, on the theory of influencing and communication - checklists of things to remember and things to do. I thought however I'd unpick what I do when I'm getting it right, and compare it to when I get it wrong. 

Beliefs its useful to remember:
  1. There's 3 versions of any story - yours, theirs and the truth.
  2. Resistance doesn't assist new information being assimilated nor new beliefs being take on (for you or other people). So it's best to try to reduce resistance inducing behaviours.
  3. Others like to make their own minds up and don't like to be told what to do. 
  4. Others need to be taken on the journey of your facts, data and the evidence that are the basis of your strategy (best not assume they already know). 
  5. Others also often need to be taken on a journey to agree to your involvement too (see 2 above if you're thinking of imposing yourself or telling people it's just your job.) 
  6. Developing trust is going to be useful but can take time. 
  7. Your communication preferences won't be the same as the other persons preferences.
  8. If you don't get the response you're expecting change what you're saying, or how you're saying it.
Which means if you want to influence someone you first need to calibrate them, understand them and their current understanding of the situation. Things you may want to find out about include: 
  • What motives them, their objectives, the current problem, what they think the answer is, their views on your involvement/input and of course determine their preferred means of communication. 
Since people like people who are like themselves then any interaction needs to address that. In other words:
  • You need to stand in the other persons shoes. If you were them in the current situation how would you feel, react and what would you need to hear? We so often get wrapped up in what we want to say and forget we need to translate it so that it may be understood. 
Each subsequent meeting then has the above beliefs as its basis. 
I would love to known if there's any of these you'd challenge, or have difficulty with, and if there is one you feel may make the difference in the future. Requests for blog topics also welcomed.
Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out and especially good at joining up all the dots! 

NB: please remember influencing isn't about manipulation.

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