A couple of weeks ago I was at a conference where one of the key challenges the delegates were facing in their organisations was not being understood. They were struggling to gain buy-in from their senior colleagues to the contribution that they were making and also, the extra value they could add if given half a chance. “They simply don’t understand us” was the sentiment from one delegate.
Most people have an innate need to feel that they are understood by those around them. When you know that others understand you, you’ll relax a bit and trust a bit more. Because they really understand your position, your attention will shift. Instead of working hard to be understood, you’ll have time to spend on other things. You may start wondering how the other person could help you. Or even, how could you …
Pause a moment. When you think of Apple, what comes to mind? How about Samsung, IBM or even Rolls Royce? Whatever comes to mind represents the brand which you perceive them to have. While everyone may have different experiences of these companies, there will also be a huge amount of consistency between individuals’ perceptions. To the organisation concerned, these common impressions represent the brand they have succeeded in creating. They invest huge sums of money to get this right.
When people in your organisation think about your team, what thoughts come into their minds? The common impressions they have as a population represent the brand you and your team have created. Your brand may be positive or negative (just like for big companies) depending on the common experience people have when they interact with your team. If there isn’t much commonality it means your internal market is confused and your team has failed to make a distinct impression.
A strong positive brand will help you to get …
If you are responsible for large and complex relationships, there will inevitably be times when things are not going as smoothly as you would like. Perhaps that is putting it mildly. Many people I speak to who are playing a key role in strategic alliances or supplier relationships are finding it extremely tough at the moment. For many, having a reasonable relationship would be a major improvement.
When things start to go wrong it is easy to get lost in the detail. The frustration caused by lack of delivery or unexpected costs keeps people focused on fixing (or fighting) the symptoms. Sitting back and reflecting on the quality of the relationship as a whole doesn’t generally happen until it gets to breaking point. By which time, bad feelings, bruised egos and a multitude of other problems have to be dealt with too.
Instead of waiting until this point, what you could …
Following the successful launch of the Positive Influence for Women email programme dedicated to helping women to become more influential, I have decided to deepen and extend the research on this topic.
The purpose of this research is to understand more about how gender impacts the way people influence and the challenges gender differences create. It is important to note that this research is seeking contributions from men and women about their own perspective and also, what they think about the opposite gender.
In part the stimulus for this research was the reactions around my network of men and women when I begin to ask them what advice they would give each other. My hope is that this research will help everyone to become more influential.
Reputations come in all shapes and sizes. If they are relevant, strong and robust, they can achieve significant influence. Reputations are all about expectations, and building them should be a conscious activity for anyone with ambition. Everyone has a reputation, but what does yours say about you?
If you have a reputation for being a tough negotiator you will influence the other party before you even meet them. Your reputation will precede you. They will be expecting a hard time; they will be working harder on their strategy; even harder on their alternatives. They may even be expecting to get a poor deal and this may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
They will certainly be more stressed and their performance might nosedive the moment they meet your cool expressionless face – or worse, that charismatic (or enigmatic) smile. Yes, your reputation may influence them to bring their heavy hitters to meet you head on. Brilliant, another …
A topic which comes up time and again in workshops is that of confidence, or rather, lack of it. Unless you come across as confident when influencing others, it makes success much harder to achieve. Why should someone agree with you when they notice the tell-tale signs of your lack of confidence? Perhaps you’re not telling the truth or hiding something. Maybe you don’t believe they should be saying yes to your request.
And you know these lack of confidence signs too, because you observe them in others. Noticing when you are displaying these clues is much harder, partly because at the time when you lack confidence, you will be stressed and thinking about a million other things. Fidgeting, hesitating, over-talking, avoiding eye contact and many other signals can all suggest …
Regardless of the reason why you believe that you find it difficult to influence, an important step in overcoming the challenge is to explore it in detail. What you need to do is to take a hard look at what you are experiencing, what the causes might be and then you can begin to develop solutions which will work in the short term as well as in the long term.
Although geared towards your general level of skill, thee questions below can also be focused on a specific influencing situation which you need to unblock.
As you answer the questions, be totally …
What process do you adopt when you prepare to influence others? Have you even thought about it as a process? While writing my latest book I pulled the threads together and produced this five step process that has a high level of common sense while also touching on many of the key topics specific to influence.
Step #1: Clarity
Become precise about what you want them to do, say or think. What action do you want them to take? You may not communicate it directly, but you need to be clear in your own mind what outcome you are seeking to achieve. Too often people go in to influencing situations with …
Over the last four years on this blog I have written a great deal about how to influence others, but I have never written about how to respond when other people try to influence you – apart from how to handle the negative politics. The point is that as you become more influential yourself – and more successful – more people will be beating down your door to influence you. How do you going to respond?
The simple and usually the most practical response is to get around to them in your own good time. As an influential person you are very busy, so leave them to work harder at it. This approach also helps to set the hurdle higher and force them to display tenacity – demonstrating that they think it is really important.
Tempting though this may be, it introduces risks. If their direct approach doesn’t seem to be working, they may …
Yesterday evening I enjoyed dinner with a very good friend of mine. Our conversations are usually lively and the topics ranged from the new addition to her family — Layla, the rather enthusiastic bearded collie — to exciting holiday destinations.
Our respective professional interests naturally intermingled within these topics and at one point I was explaining how elated I was feeling having finally finish the draft of my latest book — now I can pick up on all the other ideas I wanted to develop. One of these ideas is to develop a range of email subscriptions to make the articles in the influence blog more accessible. My plan is to organise these around themes such as Building Reputations in Tough Organisations, Women and Influence…
And that’s when she challenged me to do it now — today. She knows I like a challenge, and she also knows that my work is very useful to women. The idea quickly took shape …