influence-peopleOur working and personal every-day lives are full of situations where we need to convey a specific message across that will make the other person or group of people follow your advice. Even if you are somebody’s reporting manager, getting people to produce desirable results is never easy, so wouldn’t it be nice to have a skill of getting results without possessing any official authority?

Don’t know about you but I can think of at least 3 roles in my career where I had absolutely no authority over a group of people yet I had to create results for my customers. I’d like to believe and judging by the received feedback – I wasn’t too bad at it. Here is how I do it.

The secret of persuasive communication is that you need to be clear, convincing and appealing when making suggestions to others.

  • Ask yourself what your goal is before approaching someone
  • Consider other person’s perspective (put yourself in their shoes) – offer value and benefit for them as well and then express yourself
  • Be concise and then move to more details later. Make it clear and direct (related) as well as positive. Be assertive, confident and avoid loaded language
  • Get people on your side instead of commanding them
  • Think about what motivates them – frame your request in terms of what their interests and motivators are. Remember that people always ask ‘what’s in it for me’
  • Ask questions that require reflection. Example is to ask ‘what do you like about the project’ and not ‘do you like the project’
  • One size (approach) doesn’t fit all – adjust language to the department/company, think about who you are talking to. Tailor the language you use to your audience
  • Do your homework and back up your position with compelling information. Try to emphasize your expertise, use credible sources, make numbers memorable and give examples
  • Remove any animosity, distrust or fear

Strategies for overcoming resistance

Strategy Attributes Benefits
Adapt your approach Resist the temptation to keep pressing Resisters won’t feel pressured into doing what you want
Work out the resisters’ values You can appeal to resisters more efficiently if you know what their interests and values are
Show an understanding of the resisters’ emotions Encourage the people you’re interacting with to share how they feel about your request or idea If resisters know you’re taking their feelings into account, they’re more likely to listen to your argument
You need to have good relationships with those you want to persuade Having strong relationships with your coworkers makes them more inclined to trust you
If the resisters’ uncertainties aren’t apparent, you can draw them out By drawing resisters’ concerns out, you can deal with them head on to try and diminish them
Listen to the resisters’ concerns You can show you’re listening by paraphrasing concerns and clarifying any issues Resisters will feel their input is valued and you understand their concerns
You can identify the main concerns and summarize them from resisters’ feedback By showing them you’re taking their thoughts and concerns seriously, they’re more likely to listen to your ideas
Give a two-sided argument Anticipate arguments from the person you’re asking for help The person you ask for help may be more open to discussion and may participate in solving the problem at hand
Prepare your argument to counteract the resistance When you give your argument, you can clearly address the issues the other side might have and provide powerful answers that make opposition less likely
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