Influencing others and challenging their existing thoughts, feelings and actions – directly or indirectly – is an essential part of any business growth, and it all starts with you – the project leader, manager, team member or business owner.
Successful influencing is the ability to use your skills to encourage others to follow your way of thinking, and getting other people to go along with your ideas, whilst maintaining a relationship with them.
Think about someone who has influenced you in the past, or still influences you to this day, and start to break down how they managed to do this. Is this person a prominent business person in the public eye? Is it a member of your family? Is this person someone who has inspired you through achieving something great in the face of adversity?
Or maybe it was a marketing campaign that made you change brands?
There are many ways in which we are able to influence others and are indeed influenced ourselves.
- Identifying other peoples’ needs or challenges and positioning oneself to address this and put forward ideas
- Listening carefully
- Repeating information back to demonstrate that you have understood (and give the other person the ability and opportunity to correct any misunderstandings)
- Showing empathy
- Building trust and friendly interactions through rapport
- Using valuable and respectful communication
- Ensuring use of ethical practices
- Maintaining open and friendly body language; people are more likely to consider your ideas and support them in the short term and long term
- Demonstrating how your ideas will support the customer’s wider aspirations and goals
- Providing data, historical success stories and expertise to persuade others
- Including people in your ideas, giving them recognition for their input and involving them in decision-making
- Sharing idealistic visions, breaking it into achievable steps
- Showing a clear path on how the other person can get there
An important aspect to remember when you’re in an influential position is that maintaining self-awareness is key. Being aware of how and when you are influencing others and ensuring you adapt your style to remain ethical and appropriate is essential (we’ve all seen Mr Belfort’s persuasion and influencing skills in The Wolf of Wall Street!)
Within business, marketing, leadership, management or within a team – there are endless points where understanding and utilising good practice influencing skills (the above parts) can lead to greater results – whether they be quantified by sales leads, sales growth, order value, project success, audience growth or customer retention.
People like to be engaged and feel ownership – so influencing is a perfect way to encourage these emotions (they also make for very useful life skills!).
Remember to listen and show plenty of empathy as many ideas only work their way to the top of the pile after many barriers have been discussed and overcome.