HR

13 Jul 2017

83. INFLUENCE

Utilising your ability to influence others in a positive manner can have a marked impact on your performance as a leader, as well as those around you. Here are some ideas on effective influencing and how to develop your management style:

THE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN EFFECT

 
To quote Franklin: “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”
 
The science backs this theory up. Researchers found that people were likely to rate them more positively when they had asked for a favour than when they had not requested anything. And it works both ways; if you do something nice for someone else, they are more likely to want to return the favour.
 
DEVELOP IDEAS TOGETHER
 
You need to be able to adapt to other people’s ideas, says Fiona Dent, an associate of executive education at Ashridge Business School. “One way of demonstrating your flexibility is to listen to others’ ideas and identify possible connections to your own – or even adopt new ideas that support your goals and perspective. To link, build and develop ideas together, you need to establish common ground, demonstrate authenticity by regularly asking the other parties for their views and show you are aware of and appreciate their contribution.”
 
SAY MY NAME
 
According to Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, using someone’s name can be very powerful. The theory is that when you hear your name it validates your existence, making you feel more positive about the person validating it. Referring to someone in a particular way or giving them a certain title can also change how people see themselves, says Carnegie. For example, if you want to get to know someone better, you might keep referring to them as your ‘friend’ during a conversation.
 
LISTEN
 
To influence people you have to show that you really understand and empathise with how they are feeling. A great way to demonstrate this is through ‘reflective listening’, where you listen to someone then paraphrase what they said, repeating it back to them. In studies, people were found to be more likely to disclose emotion to therapists when they used reflective listening.
 
Show that you are listening and digesting what someone is saying and they are more likely to afford you the same attention.
 
EXPRESS YOURSELF
 
Influencing is not just about what you say, but how you say it. Simply expressing the facts will show that you can regurgitate information, but do it with passion and emotion and it will demonstrate your credibility and help to energise those on the receiving end. Let your enthusiasm for the subject shine through, be dynamic, make eye contact and involve and engage your audience.
 
MIRROR, MIRROR
 
Many of us use mirroring or mimicry of other people’s behaviour, speech or body language unconsciously when we communicate, but it can be deliberately employed as a tactic to influence opinion.
 
Try nodding throughout the conversation, for example. You may find your companions will start to do the same. Research backs up the idea that imitation is a form of flattery, showing that when someone is mimicked they are much more likely to act favourably and receptively towards the person who copied them.
 
In fact, provided that it is sincere, flattery is a great way to ingratiate yourself with someone and, therefore, make it easier to win them over to your ideas.
 
START SMALL

 
Research supports the idea that once someone has agreed to one request they are more likely to concede to something else later on.
 
Start by getting people’s support or agreement on the small issues or ideas, then work your way up to larger, more important ones. Psychologists suggest waiting a few days for the follow-up request, rather than subjecting people to a barrage of favours or new concepts.
 
FRAME IT
 
Concepts can be framed in a positive or negative light, depending on the words and contexts used and the balance of information given. It is a technique for influencing and persuading much used in the media and politics, where certain facts may be downplayed in favour of others, and more positive words used over those with negative connotations.
 
Ministers opposed to inheritance taxes, for example, may refer to them as ‘death taxes’ in their manifestos, hoping the negative associations of the terminology will have a subtle influence on voters. Likewise, someone who views a product or service favourably might describe it as ‘good value’, whereas a critic would call it ‘cheap’.
 
LOOK THE PART
 
“The more professional you look, the more seriously people will take you. And if they remember your appearance – for positive reasons – they’re more likely to think of you and seek out your ideas and opinions,” says Dorie Clark, Adjunct Professor of Business Administration at Duke University Fuqua School of Business.
 
“When it comes to the level of professionalism in your attire, you should seek to fit in. If you work at an advertising agency, a more relaxed dress code is fine; if you’re dealing with barristers, you’ll want to up your sartorial game. When, during Facebook’s early days, Mark Zuckerberg insisted on wearing casual clothes to important business meetings where everyone else was in a suit, his choice screamed disrespect: ‘You need to dress up for me, but I don’t need to dress up for you’.”