It is self-evident that communication is an important element of relationships, but the presence of influence may at first sight appear a little unexpected. Usually, that is something we do to others if we are successful, but not something which others do to us. The notion that it is useful for us if other people are able to influence us takes a little thought.
There are two key reasons why I believe this is a good thing. Firstly, if we want to have a mutually beneficial relationship with someone, we will have to accept that they may need to influence us at times. To not accept this is perhaps a little arrogant – can we always be right? If you have a good idea that could help us both to become more successful, I want to hear it even if it’s contrary to what I currently believe to be the right course of action. If you are convinced you are right, come on – influence me and let’s become more successful together. This maximises the potential benefits for all concerned.
The second reason is that if one side does not feel they can influence the other, they are likely to feel helpless or even powerless. One side of the relationship is dominating the other. If you have the upper hand, of course this will work for you – at least initially. But, as time progresses, the relationship will deteriorate and quickly drag down the levels of trust.
Positive Indicators: Each party in the relationship is likely to…
- Share views and opinions.
- Take time to listen to the other side’s views.
- Share a broadly equal sense of power.
- Negotiate fairly in a way that appears more like problem solving.
- Clearly understand the other person’s position, concerns and agenda.
- Proactively provide direct feedback – straight talking.
Negative indicators include people…
- Not attempting to influence the other side.
- Misunderstanding requirements, requests and deadlines.
- Demanding compliance from the other side.
- Complying with demands without challenge.
- Dominating the conversation or saying little.
- Escalating issues rather than dealing with them.
- Showing high levels of stress.
Spend a few moments thinking about a significant relationship, perhaps with a business partner or another team.
- What evidence is there for the positive and the negative?
- What is the balance like between the indicators overall?
- Are there any differences between the two teams?
- Does one team appear far less powerful/influential than the other team?
- What are the consequences for the relationship of this imbalance?
- What can you do to improve communication and balance influence?