Instructor-led training - Influencing Skills course

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Influencing Skills Training CourseInfluencing Skills Training Course

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Below are some extracts from our Influencing Skills manual.

Influencing Skills

 

What is Influencing?

Influencing is an active process whereby one person or group modifies the attitudes or behaviour of another person or group by adapting their behaviour and communication style to gain agreement and commitment to ideas and action.

What are the Benefits?

The benefits of having people with good influencing skills to an organisation include:

·       being flexible enough to cope with change

·       being willing and able to delegate more

·       creating higher levels of morale among their own staff

·       having a greater chance of hitting targets by being able to mobilise all the resources within their control

·       building and developing effective work teams

The benefits to the individual themselves:

·       greater self confidence

·       ability to involve others and get their commitment

·       greater levels of respect from others

·       the ability to manage change

 

Skills for Influencing

Planning
The more work done prior to entering an influencing interaction the more likelihood of achieving a successful 'win-win' outcome. Planning involves thinking about the people involved, the issue, the environment and approaches to use.

Patience
Influencing is not always achieved over short time spans. For many issues the influencer must be patient enough to deal with many different people, in different environments, who have different priorities. All of this demands not just patience but true understanding of the process of effective influencing.

Active Listening
This means maintaining a well-balanced level of eye contact and expressing an interest in the discussion. This is done using interjections (mm, aah, yes, etc.) or facial expression (smiles, head nods, eyebrow movements, etc.).

Ask questions to get a full understanding of the issue and use open and probing questions to test understanding. The approach of open questions followed by probes is often referred to as 'funnelling' and is an effective method of getting to the real meaning of a discussion.

Observe the people involved in the influencing issue. Listen to how they use their voice in discussing the issue (words used, speed of speech, variation in tone, etc.), watch their facial expressions (look for cues and clues of their feelings while talking) and observe their overall body language (gestures, body position, etc.).

Awareness

Self-Awareness
The effective influencer must be aware of his or her own skills and abilities. They should have a clear understanding of their preferred style of dealing with others. They should know their own strengths and weaknesses, motivators and demotivators, sources of power and have a very clear understanding of their role in the influencing process.

Others' Awareness
As well as being self-aware, an effective influencer will also observe others preferred influencing styles, the skills they use in influencing situations, their power bases and what turns them on and off. Awareness in this area will help you to choose the right influencing approach for the persons involved.

Flexibility / Adaptability
The ability to change and adapt to suit the situation is very important, and a skilled influencer realises that there is no one way of influencing. There are only effective skills which can help you in the process. The success of any influencing interaction is usually down to how the skills have been used in practice, so adaptability and flexibility are key. This means the flexibility to be able to vary your style and approach to suit the situation and people involved as well as the ability to diagnose the situation and people facing you.

 

Influencing Styles

It is important to reflect upon the styles you use when attempting to influence others. Most of us will have a preferred approach, but one approach will not work for all. Therefore, it is important to develop a range of different styles to use depending upon the situation and people.

Coercion
This is where you use insistence or threats to get things done. Overuse of this approach can result in resentment from those you are attempting to influence

Emotional Appeal
Appealing to the feelings and values of those being influenced. This can be counterproductive if the person influenced feels that they are being emotionally blackmailed.

Reason
Presenting a well thought through case which focuses on logic and rationality. This style is the basis of many influencing interactions but rarely succeeds on its own unless the people are in complete agreement with one another's views. This is a common style among most business people - however we must remember that not all decision-making is rational.

Compromise
This is when people recognise that it is necessary to satisfy at least some of each party's interests. Working towards a negotiated outcome is necessary when you may not get everything you want but when an effective outcome for all parties could be reached. Effective use of this style depends upon the use of good communication skills.

Participative
This is about mutual agreement of the best decision. It often means that you encourage the other people to develop their own analysis and solutions to the issues. This approach is very time-consuming and demands mutual respect and trust. However, the major benefit of adopting this style is the high level of commitment you gain from those you are influencing.

Informative
This style is characterised by the provision of new concepts or ideas and can often be teamed with expert power. The important thing in using this style is to ensure that the information is highly relevant to the issue under discussion.

Charisma
Use of one's personality and charm can often be an effective influencing style, but if over-used it may appear manipulative.

 These seven styles are by no means exhaustive, nor is any one style better than another. The secret for effective influencing is first to know the styles you prefer and then to develop your use of the full range of styles. Adopting the most appropriate style for the situation is essential for effective outcomes.

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