The Art of Influence
Influence is the absolute critical ingredient needed when leveraging your ideas or making things happen with other people. You cannot make the most of your ideas without influence.
Influence is a learned skill. It is essential for turning ideas into reality. It is a core ingredient in innovation, strategy, or achieving results. You can’t sell a product, solution or idea without it. Influence is the ability to connect with a person’s intrinsic motivation, gain their support, and then lead them to action for a direction or idea.
Influence can be developed through willingness to be open and adaptable to others’ needs. As a business leader or entrepreneur, your success will depend on your ability to adapt your communication style.
First, discern the difference between yourself and others, regarding the way you process information. For example, some of us think out loud in group conversations, and others would rather think in solitude. If discerning the difference does not come naturally to you, then remind yourself before every interaction that you may need to adapt.
Next, understand the difference. For example, some of us are detail identifiers and others are idea generators. Also, notice who may be cautiously diplomatic, and who may be directly forthcoming. Understanding these differences will allow you to understand people.
Finally, adapt to the other person. This takes willingness, insight, listening skills, and a genuine desire to understand their needs and concerns. Adaptation is the key to influence. Take time to figure out how others communicate. Then you can communicate in ways that will cause them to want to listen.
Want something you can try today? Let’s think about details. If someone is less detail-oriented than you, then provide less detail than you would need. Instead, use pictures, graphs, or a story. If someone is more detail-oriented than you, give them data, facts and analysis. If you aren’t sure, paint the big picture but also be prepared to share the details.
Another idea involves dialogue. If someone seems uncomfortable discussing a topic they aren’t prepared to discuss, tell them what you want to talk about, then give them time to think. If someone else wants a lot of conversation and thinking out loud before coming to a decision, then listen and give input and see where the topic leads.
Finally, if you’re communicating with someone who is more direct than you, be forthcoming and get to the point with your message. If someone is more cautious than you, use questions and diplomatic language.
The best thing about adaptation and influence is that you will engage others in dialogue that will actually improve your ideas, if you are willing to listen to their words, hear what they said, and open your mind beyond your own thoughts.
This connective technique will not only enable you to influence others more effectively by speaking their language, but will open the doors to collaborative dialogue, from which your ideas for change can have much greater impact.
You won’t always get it right, but keep trying. With enough dialogue, you can connect with others in a way that enables them to contribute to your ideas with ideas of their own and embrace the ideas you’re trying to show them. Be open about the fact that you are trying. Life improves when we learn to appreciate our differences!