Do you feel that influencing or persuading others is a good skill to have or not?
Although sales and leading roles depend on influencing successfully, many people have negative associations with words like influence, persuade, convince, sell, as if we ‘pushed’ or ‘forced’ someone to agree to something.
Influencing is about gaining commitment from others.
I’d like you to consider this for a moment.
Do you need or want to gain commitment from others in our work and lives?
Think of situations when you:
- need help with a home project and you hope that some family or friends will be willing to help.
- had a tough day and would really appreciate if your partner would call at the supermarket for dinner on their way home from work
- need a colleague from another department to help with a project you’re working on, who you know is busy, but there’s no one else who can help
- want to ask a key stakeholder to extend the deadline for a project you’re working on together due to some personal challenges you have at the moment
- would like to ask your manager for a few days holiday at a busy time, for an important family event
… and many more examples of when we need others to give us their commitment..
In what circumstances would you like to gain commitment from others?
Gaining commitment from others does not suggest convincing or persuading but rather that someone freely, willingly, commits themselves to something. Why would others do this? For what reasons do you sometimes give your commitment to others?
Influencing is linked to the old concept of ‘bartering’. You have something I want, so I need to find something you want so we can ‘trade’. When we used to barter, we were focused on exchanging something of equal value, but influencing doesn’t require that the things we exchange are of equal value, nor do we need to exchange something at the same moment
Today we call this win/win. It’s a way in which we both give and receive commitment. We build understanding and trust and a way of supporting each other at different times and in different ways that we both feel good about. The way we do this, is unique to us and with someone else it could be quite different, but still work.
So influencing is really a key part of how we build strong relationships both personal and professional. It’s a way of communicating that focuses on the relationship, shows respect and understanding of others and it’s how we get things done and achieve our goals. In other words, it’s a life skill that benefits all of us and should be a part of our personal communicating toolkit.