There are many ways to influence people. Positive ways build long-term relationships, although there is a risk that in the short term you may not get what you want. Negative ways of influence are perhaps more likely to get you what you want today; but in the long run, your influence will wane even faster than your relationships.
This is because the positive ways are focused on doing the right thing by others and helping them to act and take decisions which are good for them — while the negative ones pay little heed to their benefit.
Let’s Focus on the Positive Ways.
Some of them may challenge your notion of what is prudent. That is fine. My purpose here is to give you a vision of the ultimate way to influence people. If you can fully do all five, all of the time, brilliant — most of us can only try to get as close as we can.
It also needs to be recognised that you may need to invest a fair amount of time in preparation. Particularly if the stakes are high, these approaches will need careful thought to make sure you do not unreasonably (and unfairly) put yourself at a disadvantage.
Five Ways to Positively Influence People
- Tell the whole story. Don’t hide things which may work against you. Be open and let them know if there are disadvantages they may get along with all the benefits. This will boost your credibility and make you more trustable. It also means that when you are successful you will have been influenced consciously and fully informed.
- Declare your own interest. People will not believe that you will gain something if they do what you want them to do, so don’t leave them guessing. If you are honest and open about your profit, again your credibility rises and you also reduce the risk that they will imagine you are gaining more than you actually are.
- Consider them as your best friend. This is easier said than done and you need to challenge yourself hard on this one. If they were your very closest friend in the whole wide world, would you still want them to do what you want them to do?
- Compare openly with others. If you are in competition for their time, budget or support, there is little point in you ignoring the fact that the person you are trying to influence has to decide. Rather than sit on the outside, with honesty, discuss how your proposal compares and in the process help them through the decision. Including of course where the competition is better than you.
- Help them to influence. Few people are isolated decision makers. Most have others they have to answer to; so, while they may love your idea, how are they going to sell it to their boss? If you recognise this and help them see how they can get their paymasters onside, it will make it easier to say yes.
It would be interesting to hear your reactions right now. If you are thinking this is stupid, that is okay with me. My view is that these five contribute to your long-term success because…
- They build trust and strong relationships.
- The people you are influencing are really benefitting.
- They create higher credibility and loyalty.
- Your ideas are robustly and fairly challenged.
- You will outshine your competition in the trust and integrity stakes.
Only you can decide if these benefits are worth the time, effort and commitment their pursuit requires. Time to be courageous and claim these benefits?
Colin Gautrey is becoming the most sought-after expert in power and influence by ambitious and talented professionals who are serious about accelerating their careers and their results. But, Colin is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
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