The Power of Influence

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The Power of Influence

How to get your way - without stepping on anyone's toes

By Oksana Tashakova

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Published: Fri 28 Aug 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 4 Sep 2015, 11:15 AM

You are an influential person - even if you don't feel like one! You affect the people around you. But how well are you able to create a positive environment? That depends upon your awareness of the impact you have on people around you. We've talked about personal power previously, but how you exercise that power is through influence.
One way to consider influence is in terms of different styles of influencing. In a 2012 article for Harvard Business Review, researchers Chris Musselwhite and Tammie Plouffe identified five different ways of influencing, each with a potential for success considering the situation: persuading, asserting, negotiating, bridging and inspiring.
They say that most of us have one dominant influencing style but it's best to develop other styles as well so that you have the most versatility when it comes to influencing others. Here are the five most common styles of influence and tips for each style.
Persuading: Using your power of reasoning to put forward your ideas and offering logical rationale for why others should agree with your point of view.
Do you use logic, facts, and reasoning to present your ideas? Do you leverage your facts, logic, expertise, and experience to persuade others? If so, you are using the persuading style.
Tips for using this style:

  • Put forward one clear proposal
  • Be direct and strong, not tentative
  • Give outline or structure
  • Be concise, not wordy
  • Give only a few strong reasons
Asserting: Stating expectations, applying pressure, offering incentives.
Do you rely on your personal confidence, rules, law, and authority to influence others? Do you insist that your ideas are heard and considered, even when others disagree? Do you challenge the ideas of others when they don't agree with yours? Do you debate with or pressure others to get them to see your point of view? If so, you are using the asserting style.
Tips for using this style:
  • Maintain control
  • State your own expectations
  • Be direct and forceful
  • Don't justify with reasons
  • Use incentives within your control
  • Be positive
  • Be assertive, not aggressive
Negotiating: Seeking compromises and offering concessions.
Do you make trade-offs and exchanges in order to meet your larger interests? If necessary, will you delay the discussion until a more opportune time? If so, you are using the collaborative/negotiating style.
Tips for using this style:
  • Find out if others are open to negotiation
  • Show respect for others
  • Secure agreement to move forward
  • Suggest processes and tradeoffs to reach a settlement
  • Ask for ideas from others to move forward
  • Find out who the key influencers and decision makers are
  • Prioritise your outcomes
Bridging: Supporting others, listening, disclosing and consulting.
Do you attempt to influence outcomes by uniting or connecting with others? Do you rely on reciprocity, engaging superior support, consultation, building coalitions, and using personal relationships to get people to agree with your position? If so, you are using the relationship/bridging style.
Tips for using this style:
  • Disclose: be sincere and non-defensive
  • Admit to errors, apologise
  • Listen actively and show empathy
  • Let others lead discussions
  • Be non-judgemental
  • Paraphrase to show understanding
  • Don't disagree, argue or refute
  • Acknowledge feelings
  • Use bridging to gather information and to calm a situation
Inspiring: Advocating and encouraging others with shared purpose and exciting possibilities.
Do you encourage others by communicating a sense of shared mission and exciting possibility? Do you use inspirational appeals, stories, and metaphors to encourage a sense of purpose? If so, you are using the inspiring style.
Tips for using this style:
  • Describe a future possibility; a desired result or ideal outcome   
  • Use images, metaphors, word pictures
  • Communicate excitement or commitment
  • Connect with values, aspirations or goals of other group members
  • Avoid persuading - stay with intangibles
Now that you have identified your dominant influencing style, are you happy with what you have discovered? If not, what would you like to change?
Think about an idea or issue that you need to gain support for. Think in terms of what approach will work for each person or the group of people concerned, in this situation, at this time. Which influencing style would be best to use and why?
Whilst your 'natural' style will guide you to a possible outcome, we need to be able to flex our styles depending on the circumstances.
(Oksana Tashakova, founder of Wealth Dynamics Unlimited, is a personal branding expert and entrepreneurial educator.)

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