Influence comes in many forms and fashions. Its scope isn’t limited to one-on-one interactions but includes all aspects of work, including team discussions, decision making and meetings. Influence is also agnostic when it comes to title or position. These aren’t always enough to persuade others, nor are you always in a position of power. Regardless of your title, your position or the situation, the purpose of influence all comes down to one word: impact.
What makes impact important? It creates value. And to make an impact, you have to develop and put to use the skill of influence.
Let’s look at four influence strategies.
The primary skill to influence others is not actually a skill at all. It’s a mindset to take the focus off yourself and put it on the other person.
Make your starting point understanding a person’s view, motives, interests and fears. That gives you a frame of reference to influence that person — not for manipulative purposes but rather collaborative ones. It positions you to influence through collaborating on their idea and shaping your message around their view.
If you don’t bother to understand their point of view, then all you’re doing is forcefully asserting your position and negating theirs. While you may ultimately get your way, it’s through force rather than influence.
Building On Ideas
When you build on a person’s idea (instead of tearing it down or forcing your own), it puts in motion the concept of collaborative influence, which is all about respect and trust.
We can look to professional improvisers who use the skill of “yes, and” to build on ideas and be collaborative. The “yes” part acknowledges what the other person said, while “and” lets you build on it. Combined, “yes, and” sets in motion collaborative influence.
A favorite saying of mine is, “Work is accomplished through relationships.” This speaks directly to influence.
As pointed out by Mike Myatt, executive coach and author, “Whether you realize it or not, your success in business and in life will largely be dependent upon your ability to not only establish key relationships, but in your ability to influence and add value to your relationships.”
This doesn’t mean being everyone’s best friend; it simply means having a good rapport with a variety of people. If you want to influence someone but don’t have a relationship with them, well, it’s not impossible, but the incline to get there is much steeper. The key, then, is to build rapport early on in relationships.
Imagine you’re now in front of the person you wish to influence. You’ve adopted an open mindset, you know the skill of “yes, and” and you have a good rapport with the person. Another influence tool from the world of improv is known as mirroring or matching, in which you match a person’s breathing, rate of speech, expressiveness or communication preference.
Mirroring or matching creates a sense of likeness. When two people have an affinity for each other, working together is easier. In turn, it facilitates influence.
Make your impact through influence by adopting an open mindset, building on ideas, developing key relationships and mirroring others.