Gaining inﬂuence in the modern workplace is getting difficult, according to Nick Morgan, author of Power Cues. “It’s never been harder to inﬂuence others because they’ve never been more distracted,” he says. “Information overload and the pace of our digital lives have led to short attention spans.” And yet, “it’s more important than ever to be able to command inﬂuence, because of the increased pressure on getting results” and the emergence of VUCA World. Now It all comes down to the approach one takes. Here are some tips:
Spend considerable time getting to know people, this is a fundamental and most crucial step towards influencing. Go deeper and listen to understand, find out their personality, is the person Dominant, Influencing, Steady or Conscientiousness (DISC), recognizing the personality style and mirroring the same would result in building quicker rapport. Discover and understand their life purposes or motives in the workplace; is the person looking for advancement, is the person looking for stability, is the person looking for fame/recognition/acceptance. This vital information plays a pivotal role when you formulate your influence strategy. Knowing people will take time, be patient and persistent, as you embark on this journey, you will also build trust. Remember you will have to talk decidedly less and listen more, general thumb rule is you talk about 20% and listen about 80% of the time. Develop the skill of asking great questions, as this will help unearth the deep emotions from individuals and finally listen to understand and not to respond.
Learn to recognize and adapt to a variety of organizational climates to get things done. Be aware of the importance of timing, individual motivations, and group dynamics especially in managing change. Be skilled in when and how to escalate issues. Pay attention and analyze deeply to extract relevant matters from the “noisy” environment, and get to know who are the key players in any decision. Observe and discover networking groups, e.g. who goes out with who for Lunch, after office hours parties, Golf, Hiking, Charity work or any other form of meetups. Learn to be skilled and discover hate networks without being perceived as political.
You can be in one of the networking groups, but do not stay there. To be Org Savvy, talk to as many people on a regular basis. Keep yourself updated on what is happening in the organization without directly getting involved. Don’t get trapped in the bait laid out by others, especially when they start to share some political news about the organization. Stay neutral; if you participate, it will boomerang someday back to you.
Now that you have gained a fair bit of insight of the organization and the individual, let us discuss the influence strategy. There is a simple model which will help you to organize your thoughts and help you influence effectively. Before I explain the model, let us first understand the components of the model.
Be 100% sure of what exactly you want, many people they try to influence others without having a full clarity on what is that they are trying to change. For example, a co-worker frequently submits his/her reports late and with errors, which makes your task arduous and also create a time pressure. You set up the meeting and discuss with this person the issue, the conversation goes up and down and in all directions with the other person, getting overly defensive and finally he may agree partially about the problem since he acknowledges the problem partly, you are satisfied and move on. However, his behavior remains inconsistent with some slight improvements. If you would have approached this meeting with a clear goal, that you need the report to be submitted on time with no errors, then the conversation and outcome would have been much more different. Hence, the first step is to write down what is it that you exactly want. Be as specific as possible.
Again many people do not know exactly know when they need to stop influencing. Without the goal and specific outcome, there is a higher probability that conversation might keep dragging. In the above example, supposedly a person agrees to fix the issue moving forward and submits it timely however since you were unclear with and what is that you are looking, you might keep influencing him to agree on his mistakes, whereby the effort is futile and unproductive, also detrimental towards a relationship.
We all live in a world of perception; if you speak to NLP experts, almost all will tell you that we human beings 90% live in a world of perception and only 10% in reality. One needs to stay away from both conscious and unconscious bias, and it is essential to write down your perceptions or assumptions under self quadrant. This skill is important, as during the conversation you should test the hypothesis if it is true or is it a perception.
You can increase your influence on a particular issue by authentically framing it as a benefit to the people you want on your side. Consider each stakeholder’s needs, perspectives, and temperaments. “Do your homework to find out what they need to hear and what will capture their attention, what is important to them,” Morgan says. For each person, “make sure you’re answering the question, ‘What’s in it for me?” He also recommends talking about how an idea will “benefit the organization” as a whole. “Use the word ‘we,’ as in ‘We’ll see the value,’” he says. Clark concurs. “If your proposal is fundamentally self-interested, people won’t line up.”
And finally, do know what is going on in other person life both personally and professionally. Do they carry any baggage or history? As these may have a significant impact on influence both positively or negatively. Understanding these key points will help navigate the conversation with the other person.
When it comes time to leveraging the influence you’ve built to promote a particular initiative or idea, be strategic. Clark recommends creating a “power map” to guide your campaign. “Create an orgnizational chart of decision makers related to your issue,” she says. As you go through the levels, “ask yourself, ‘Can I influence this person directly? If not, whom can I influence who can influence that person?’” Then begin to think about how and when you will approach these various colleagues. “War-game the situation,” she says. “Who might be threatened by your plans, and how can you bring them over to your side?” You’re not scheming; you’re strategizing. Use the above template which will help you to organize them through and help you navigate the conversation and eventually assist you in influencing.