"You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time." J.S. Knox
This is one of the great buzzwords of our time. When used consciously, it's also the key to building solid relationships as well as the foundation for being influential. When you are able to show how someone else's needs can be met through your idea or process, you both stand a chance of walking away satisfied.
The question: How do you do it?
Five Styles to Help You Influence
1. Demonstrate. Give a successful example of your idea.
How? Highlight related examples of the same idea already taking place in your organization or in another business.
2. Cost-Focus. Show how problems and costs can be minimized.
How? Run through the numbers to reveal, factually, the cost benefits of your approach. Do this on paper and hand the other person(s) a copy to hold in their grubby little paws. This makes it real. Don't just say it; print out the math.
3. Values-based consistency. Show that your solution is consistent with, and strongly supports, the other person's values.
How? Do your homework and find out the non negotiables in the business lives of those listening. Then, clearly point out the values-alignment that your solution brings.
4. Time Awareness. Demonstrate how the plan will unfold over a specific period of time.
How? My favorite--because it is low risk and high payoff--is to do a trial project implemented in stages with "client" review at designated points. It is very powerful because the other person is actively involved, shares likes and dislikes at each step, and is part of the successes and problem-solving. Ownership emerges rather quickly.
5. Testimonials. Show that your idea already has the support of other respected people.
How? Ask others who have used the idea to give you a blurb or, internally, to come to the meeting. Nothing succeeds like someone else showing how successful you have been with them. You hardly have to say a word except "thank you" to those who have helped.
Some Other Thoughts
- Listen to what sound like objections and acknowledge them. You'll gain respect. You'll lose respect if you don't treat feedback to your ideas as being legitimate.
- Stay focused on your theme and not everything you know about the idea or proposal. Too many details will distract your listeners. However, if they ask for details, be prepared to respond. It means they are interested.
- Consistent with #4 above: People are more likely to accept a smaller proposal if they've just rejected a larger one. Keep the pilot program in your back pocket as a reasonable alternative to implementing the entire idea. It will seem sensible to the individual or group.