When I have suggested the idea of influencing, I have been faced with a common response, “that sounds like manipulation to me.”
Given that I have received this feedback many times, I will endeavor to clarify the difference by my own definitions.
To me, manipulation that is purposely and consciously done by someone is usually for their own benefit or gain and at the expense of another or others.
It is deliberate and often disguised as beneficial yet ultimately, the one being manipulated pays the price.
The person doing the manipulation requires no special development and again, their intentions are for their own gain.
Influence on the other hand is rooted in a positive motivation to make things better for the entire team, organization or for clients.
In order to influence, a person needs to develop and build their capacity. It is not something that comes naturally to everyone and requires deliberate practice and can be invaluable in leadership roles.
Influencing in leadership might entail getting someone to provide ideas, action, agree with a decision, take a course of action or even simply be open to change.
As such, influencing is something I have been continually working on for the last decade and I’ll share ten quick rapid-fire ideas on this topic.
#1) If you have to say “no” as a matter of compliance or due to legal regulations, provide an alternative immediately so that the individual sees an alternative path rather than getting upset and defensive.
#2) Provide testimonials from someone who the person can relate to and not just someone higher-up or in a completely different industry or role.
#3) Do not create a false sense of urgency if one does not exist. That said, if an opportunity will not exist this time next year, mention that and be able to defend your position with evidence.
#4) Too much choice is too overwhelming. Ask questions and narrow your offering.
#5) Try using a handwritten request rather than an email. And don’t forget to say thank you.
#6) Always provide unconditional help every chance you get; these are your credits. Asking for something are your debits. Ensure your credits far outweigh your debits.
#7) Use your own mistakes humbly to learn from, share them and ensure people have space to learn and grown themselves.
#8) Encourage and be open to differing perspectives, even expect them. Yet, encourage a constructive rebel, the dialogue should make the situation and result better, not worse.
#9) If applicable, ask others for a testimonial or an introduction. Even better if that person can describe a before and after that you helped create that resulted in a beneficial outcome.
#10) Last, but not least, smile if you have something to smile about.
Let me know if you find these to be influential.