There's a misconception about influence that gets people into trouble. It's the idea that influence is a matter of "positional negotiation": one side lays out a case while the other counters with a stronger argument on a different position.
This is actually a kind of competition that most often ends in conflict. The one with the most power wins while the loser walks away filled with resentment.Start Thinking "Partnership"
Influence has its roots in agreements. In order to genuinely persuade someone to pursue a certain course of action, there needs to be an agreement about what is to be done and by whom. When agreements serve the interests of both parties the chances of success multiply. Why? Because there is increased commitment, and commitment leads to the laying of the strongest foundation of influence--relationship.Six Self-Assessment Questions
The best place to start being influential is with yourself. The clearer you are about what's important, the easier it will be to work through an agreement, especially the parts where you need to explain calmly and clearly why you don't want to do certain things. You can start by asking yourself these before entering a situation:
- What do I want to achieve through this partnership?
- What does (s)he want from our relationship and especially from this situation?
- How can I meld these in some way to begin to create a framework for mutual satisfaction?
- What can I give up, if needed, that will not do anything to sacrifice my overall goal?
- What can (s)he offer that may not be obvious?
- What new options or solutions could serve our common purpose?
Finally, when you get together, do these:
- Look for shared interests
- Listen to each others' ideas, synthesize mutual goals
- Work together and stay in touch to make sure you're both satisfied with how things are going. If not, start talking about what you can do differently to reach your mutual targets.
Which of these do you need to start doing to become more influential in your world?