Improving our influencing skills is something that we can all benefit from in business. Whether we’re trying to negotiate a better deal or persuade our colleagues in the meeting room, persuasion is key. With that in mind, here are some quick tips on the basics of influence.
Build a Rapport
Just as people buy from people, they also buy into people. Learning the art of small talk can help you strike up a rapport with another person. Keep the conversation light (avoid politics!) but try and find a common interest which can act as a foundation for the future relationship. Not only does this help you ease any tension, but it also allows the other person to see you as a person – and hopefully, a person they like.
If we only ever ‘tell’ people what we want them to know, how will we ever understand what they want? Effective listeners are reliable and attentive. They don’t sit and nod quietly but learn forward eager to learn more. A poor listener feels as though they are wasting time by not making their point, whereas a great listener is taking notes to increase their knowledge of the issues so that they may offer the best solution.
Work to identify and understand the other person’s position – even (or especially) when you do not agree with it. When people refuse to consider the other person’s argument, conflict arises. Trying to negotiate during a dispute only results in both sides digging themselves in and then nobody wins. Instead, focus on reading what the other person is saying. Look for pain points or other areas where you can offer something to make the other party see you as sincere and understanding.
Don’t Manipulate – Motivate!
Manipulation is insincere, and people start to notice when they feel manipulated. Taking an honest, but firm approach, making logical arguments and being passionate about what you’re saying is a much better way to motivate somebody to see things your way. Establishing trust is vital in any relationship, and building trust takes empathy and compassion – not lies and trickery.
Do you know why hotels leave mints on your pillow, or servers bring a little something extra with the bill? It encourages people to think that little bit better of them. Whenever you can do a little something for somebody or give them a little something. These do not have to be grand gestures, but the more generous we are perceived to be, the more people will be receptive to what we have to offer.
Business is often about being convincing. Think of the worst sales presentation you ever sat through. Perhaps the speaker was monotone or disinterested. Maybe they sounded like they were reading a script. We tend to spot the signs of somebody doing it for the paycheque, and when we do, their authority or source credibility goes flying out of the window.
A passionate, engaging presenter who speaks with conviction encourages the audience to be receptive. You may need to stick to the script at times, but find ways to highlight your sincerity and belief that what you are saying is spot on. An exciting, dynamic presentation can be hugely motivating for the other party.