Develop your Influencing Skills

How times have changed from the days when we had to listen to our Managers and do as they said. This has not been the case for a long time and nowadays Managers manage by consent. The success of a Manager today is proportionate to their influencing skills.

Today, employee engagement has to be a top priority for any manager as teams and team members can and will choose whether to engage or not. If, like me, you have experienced that feeling when you know that people have not bought into what you have said, to your plan, or to a suggestion that you have put forward, then you need to think how you can use your influencing skills with them.

Top Tip 1: Know what you want to achieve

People with excellent communication and influencing skills know exactly what their outcome is. They focus on and create win/win scenarios. Once you know what you want you can explore how you can achieve it at the same time as helping your team to get what they want too.

Top Tip 2: Create a ‘Frame’

Take time to set the scene and to get shared agreement on the purpose of the communication. Agree what is to be covered, what your objectives are, any shared objectives and agree the way forward. This will make sure that everyone is aware of what is going to happen and they know what to expect.

Top Tip 3: Use tools & techniques that encourage others to see your perspective

You want to achieve your outcome so you need to use language that will steer others towards your way of thinking about your idea. Language patterns are an effective technique, particularly patterns like mind reading and tag questions.

Mind reading statements create the impression that the speaker knows what the listener is thinking, for example: “When it comes to business tips you want tools and techniques that are easy to learn and can be used straight away.”

A tag question is a question added to the end of a statement in an attempt to gain agreement, for example: “It’s really important that you can use these tips right away, isn’t it?”

Top Tip 4: Get in rapport

If you are in a ‘connection’ with another person and are able to develop a rapport you will have a stronger relationship with them. Be aware of the other person’s behaviours, movements, voice speed, tonality and hand gestures. Mirroring their patterns will help to create an environment where a person accepts that you are ‘similar’ to them and then they are more likely to connect with you.

Top Tip 5: Use pacing statements to create more ‘connection’

Acknowledging what people say by using the occasional “Yep, OK, aha, mmm” helps to build on the connection you are creating with others. Making statements like this makes it difficult for others to disagree and helps to engage them into your communication.

Top Tip 6: Use language that offers options

Sometimes a true response can be obtained by using questions such as “Could you be interested?” Would you be interested if…?” “Might you be happy to move forwards….?” “I’m not telling you, I’m just asking if you might/could/would be…?” Suggestive language means that the decision is not made by you but by those you want to influence.

Top Tip 7: Be aware of body language

Noticing the reactions of others – do they look uncomfortable, are they frowning, do they look as if they are about to say something – will give you a good idea of how your information has been received and if you have communicated it effectively. Non verbal actions might indicate that you need to clarify what you have said or that the listener has a question.

Top Tip 8: Match communication patterns

Choosing words and actions that align with others will make them feel more comfortable, important and understood. This might mean having to switch from your natural communication style to a style that they can relate to. Identify whether those around you are visual, auditory or kinaesthetic communicators and build rapport by using appropriate phrases such as “I see,” “I hear you,” “That feels good to me.”

Top Tip 9: Understand the other person’s needs and values

Whatever the response made or question asked there will be a reason behind it and it is really important. You need to ask “Why is that important to you?” so that you can begin to understand the ‘driver’ behind the statement. This will be the real reason for the response or question!

Top Tip 10: Re-cap, Re-cap and Re-Cap

Having reached the end of this article, you have taken in the information and have learned or confirmed a few things about influencing skills. Now you need to put these tips into practice whilst they are fresh in your mind. As with ‘pacing statements’, re-capping not only re-confirms what has happened, but it also engages the person back into your communication loop.

Remember, influencing people means taking on board their ideas, thoughts and feelings, so make sure you build your reputation as someone who genuinely listens, cares and is interested in people.

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About the Author

Anne-Marie, Assessment and Moderation Manager at Exponential Training, has 10 years experience of supporting Managers, Coaches and Consultants. A qualified assessor, trainer and performance coach, Anne-Marie works with students and organisations both in the UK and overseas. You can contact Anne-Marie or connect through LinkedIn.

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