I was working with a client recently on an issue they were having which required them to influence others to follow a particular path. The discussion was an interesting one and it was powerful to gain insight into their perspective on what influencing was. In her mind it was more around manipulating or “talking others into” following another path.
We had a very interesting discussion to clarify what influencing ‘really’ is! Some of the words that describe the ‘art’ of influencing effectively and constructively are; motivating, inspiring, shaping, changing, guiding or having an effect on others.
Many people think influence is merely “talking people into” doing something but influencing is an all-encompassing skill that combines, strong verbal communication skills, active listening, persuading and (sometimes) negotiating to achieve buy-in to follow a particular path.
Planning an influencing discussion is critical to achieve success and one of the key elements, which is often overlooked, is considering the emotional elements that people are bringing into the discussion.
To ‘really’ influence or inspire others to follow a particular path:
Plan your discussion and be prepared
Be clear about the goal or vision you have, and share it
Consider the emotional elements of those involved in the discussion and consider how to address them
Be authentic and genuine in your discussion
Listen actively listening to what is being said, but also notice what is not being said
The two key reasons why people do not follow a path or come to a decision to follow a certain path is lack of information or, an emotional block to the path.
The richness in an effective influencing discussion is to know which questions to ask to elicit resistance and identify what is needed to remove the barriers to that resistance, in a way that inspires others to follow your vision.