How to Influence Others (Even if They’re More Senior Than You)

How to influence others

As a leader in an organisation, you’re in the difficult position of having to influence in many directions.  Of course, you need to know how to influence the people you manage but you also need to influence your peers, your bosses, clients and others outside the organisation.

Your effectiveness at influencing others depends on the context – you; the person you are trying to influence; your boss; the proposal; the culture of the organisation; specific policies and procedures; time constraints.

In reality, it’s just too tough to consider every variable each time you want to influence someone’s actions and behaviour.

Is there a crucial factor that makes the difference between effective and ineffective influencing?   Yes.  In my experience, the crucial factor is the relationship between the influencer and the person they are trying to influence.

Successful and effective influence depends on how receptive a person is to the proposal and how well the influencer develops that receptiveness by providing the information and support they need.

How to Influence Others – 3 Key Steps

If you’re trying to influence someone there are 3 steps you need to go through:

Step 1:   Focus on your desired results.

What is the specific proposal that you want the other person to buy into?  What action do you want them to take?  What do you want from this discussion?  Write it down and be clear in your own mind.  Also, consider what your alternatives are.  What alternatives are you prepared to consider?

Step 2:  Anticipate the other person’s receptiveness to the proposal. 

Does the other person know the what, when, where and how of the proposal?  From your perspective do they know enough?  Do they have the skills to do what’s needed?  How confident are they that they can do what you need them to do? How willing are they to do what’s needed?  How much do they want to do what’s needed?

Step 3:  Find out what information and support they need to improve their receptiveness.  

Your strategy here will depend on where they are starting from:

a)  If you start with an uninformed person – if that person doesn’t have any idea of what to do, where to do it, and how to do it – you may have to provide all the guidance and direction.  And you will need some two-way communication to ensure the proposal is clear and understood.

b)  Once people have a good understanding of the proposal, the key consideration is whether they have the confidence and motivation to take the action needed.  They no longer need a lot of direction because they know the proposal and what action you want them to take.  But for whatever reason, they’re unhappy about it.  So you need to provide support, encouragement and perhaps an acknowledgement of the difficulty it puts them under.  And you need to consider and discuss different choices to achieve a win-win solution.  At this stage, your major role is listening and encouraging input and ideas exchange from the other person.

The crucial factor for effective influencing is developing a good relationship.  And that depends on useful conversations.  I hope these three steps will help you.

I’d love to hear your experience.  Please share your thoughts and any other advice or tips you might add in the comments box below.

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