Persuading and influencing skills

149We discussed Persuading others – influencing skills in previous lessons.

The ability to influence and persuade others is an absolutely critical element of leadership.

Think of any prominent politician – Clinton. Obama, Thatcher, Churchill, the key politicians in your country – whatever their politics or yours, you cannot deny their charisma, their ability to put forward an argument and take people with them

Think about charismatic leaders of industry such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerfield. Larry Page, Sergey Brin . Their success emanates from being able to influence people, and persuade them to implement their Vision.

This is a skill that is very highly prized by business and commerce. Recruiters are looking for people who can lead and influence their teams. Companies who recognise the talent should nurture it, keep those people close to them and harness the power for their targets and their commercial gain.

Although this is intrinsically an inborn talent, like all talents such as golf, tennis, playing football, it can be coached, and polished and honed to bring out the best of it. .
Using Influencing skills is an activity that is closely related to negotiating, and calls for the same kind of thinking and understanding of the motivation of others.

Possession of this skill will help you to enhance your career, and it is also a life skill –we need to persuade others in life every day -family, friends, children You need to analyse this ability, deconstruct it, and understand how it can work for you .You need to work on how to get others to want the things you want, how to connect with people and build trust

The Six Principles of Influence

Robert Cialdini established The Six Principles of Influence, which were published in his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” in 1984.

The principles are: reciprocity, commitment, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity. Read Persuading others – influencing skills for more detail.

Let’s briefly consider each one of Cialdini’s principles

  1. Reciprocity -People feel obliged to return a favour. Always do a good turn if you can, people will remember and be more sympathetic to your cause.
  2. Commitment and Consistency -Everyone like to be consistent. Get people on your side and they will probably stay there. Get them to commit and “buy in”, perhaps by involving them in the development of the idea.
  3. Social Proof or “herd behaviour “. Once the first people commit to you, others will follow, especially if they themselves are influencers
  4. Liking-People will be influenced by those they like, or who belong to their age or racial group.
  5. Authority – People accept the lead of those in positions of authority. Target support from senior people even if they are not decision makers for your project
  6. Scarcity- Things are more attractive when they are scarce or there is a time pressure

What makes a successful influencer?

Some of these skills are innate, others can definitely be practiced.

Successful influencers usually have a likeable personality, and connect with their audience by building rapport. Usually empathetic, they have confidence in their own ability, and are reliable and responsible. They are good at building trust.

They are good listeners, so practice and hone your active listening skills.

And are usually excellent communicators. Again this skill can be practiced

Practice your influencing skills before a meeting where you want to propose something. Consciously consider your audiences’ wants and needs, and deliberately construct an argument, demonstrating how your proposal will meets those needs. Explain the benefits, remembering not to confuse these with features.

Persuading and influencing people is an important skill and one you should definitely work on.