Influencing others may be as simple as asking a colleague to do something or as complex as building multi-party coalitions. Whatever the situation, success depends on the strategies you employ. In this blog, I'll outline 9 strategies, when each strategy is most effective and least effective. You can find more detail on each strategy in the complete "Skillfluence Influencing Strategies Workbook" which you can download from our Resource Library.
1. Empowerment: Making others feel valued by involving them in decision-making, and giving them recognition.
Purpose: The purpose of empowerment is to gain the commitment of those who will carry out a plan. Empowerment stimulates people to take the initiative and keeps them motivate.
- When the people you want to influence have a high level of knowledge and expertise.
- When the culture of your organisation supports participation.
- When it's important to maintain positive relationships.
- If those you're empowering don't have the capability or will to achieve the desired goal.
- When the organisation doesn't support participation, or when decisions need to be made quickly.
- When power is given to others without support or follow up.
2. Interpersonal Awareness: Identifying and addressing other people's concerns.
Purpose: To ensure that one's ideas address other people's concerns, based on a genuine understanding of those concerns.
- In one to one situations.
- When you don't know the other person very well.
- When it's important to develop trust and rapport.
- When there is underlying tension that you need to understand and resolve.
- When decisions need to be made quickly.
- When the other person's decision will be based on objective criteria such as price.
- If your concern for the other person prevents you from completing the task.
- When attempts to understand the other person are seen as insincere.
3. Bargaining: Gaining support by negotiating a mutually satisfactory outcome.
Purpose: To meet the needs of everyone involved. It involves working out what others want, and what you're prepared to give and then striking a deal.
- In a political environment.
- When asking someone to do something they wouldn't otherwise do.
- When there is an adversarial quality to the relationship.
- When you want to meet the needs of all parties involved.
- With people you work with on a daily basis.
- For the person who is a less sophisticated negotiator.
- With people at a higher level than you.
- When there is a lack of trust that the agreed deal will be delivered.
4. Relationship Building: Establishing and maintaining constructive relationships with people you may need to influence.
Purpose: To maintain potentially useful relationships through friendly communications. It's about securing support in the long term.
- When getting support depends on positive relationships.
- To establish people's long term support.
- With people you see on a regular basis.
- If insincere.
- In crisis situations.
- With people at a lower level than you.
- When the support of others is based on objective criteria and logical arguments.
5. Organisational Awareness: Identifying and getting the support of key people.
Purpose: To get to the people make decisions and influence others within an organisation.
- When there are key people in an organisation who can influence the decision.
- With colleagues at your level or above.
- When it's necessary to influence a number of people from different parts of an organisation.
- In highly politicised organisations.
- When the person you want to influence is not acting as a member of the organisation.
- When the person you want to influence does not have to consider the reactions of others in the organisation.
- When the decision will be based on objective criteria such as cost.
6. Common Vision: Showing how your ideas support the organisation's broader goals.
Purpose: To show others that their support is good for the organisation. It's about demonstrating that your idea, and their energy, loyalty and teamwork, will help achieve the organisation's goals.
- With colleagues at your level and below.
- When you have high personal credibility - people want to work with you for the organisation.
- When your position gives you the authority to seek support in this way.
- When the organisation's goals and values are about to change in unpredictable ways.
- With people above you in the organisation.
- When you lack credibility in the eyes of the people you're trying to influence.
- When the people you are trying to influence are cynical about the organisation.
7. Impact Management: Choosing the most interesting, memorable or dramatic way to present ideas.
Purpose: To win the support of others by catching their attention.
- When it's important to make a very strong first impression.
- When dealing with people you don't know very well.
- When creating or delivering presentations.
- When dealing with groups.
- When the decision will be based on rigorous, quantitative or logical criteria.
- When trying to influence people you know very well.
- When it's important to identify the other person's specific concerns.
8. Logical Persuasion: Using logical reasons, expertise or data to convince and persuade others.
Purpose: To demonstrate that your idea is logical and reasonable and therefore right. Logical persuasion sets out to convince others that the proposed approach is the most appropriate.
- With people who rely on logic and reason.
- When the person you are trying to influence is systematically comparing several products, ideas or alternatives.
- When the people whose support you seek are strongly influence by personal relationships.
- When personal goals, hopes or concerns affect people's reasoning.
- When the other person is concerned with how ideas are presented, not just the content.
- When the decision is affected by political factors within the organisation.
9. Coercion: Using threats or pressure to get others to do what you want.
Purpose: To get others to do what you want when they are not happy to do so. Coercion assume that others will not give their support or compliance willingly.
- When there is an emergency or crisis.
- To get short-term compliance.
- With colleagues below your level with much less knowledge about the situation and just need to be told.
- When threats and pressure are expected methods of control in the organisation.
- When other influencing strategies have been tried and failed.
- When long-term support is needed.
- . When others need to understand or agree with the reasons for your actions or decisions.
- When used with colleagues at your level or above.
- When used with others who have high levels of knowledge and expertise.
- When threats or pressure are not accepted ways of getting things done in the organisation.
- When it's important to maintain a positive relationship with the other person.
This hopefully provides you with a useful starting point to identify when and how to apply different influencing strategies. If you'd like to learn more about each approach and specific suggestions for how to improve your effectiveness at each strategy, download the "Skillfluence Influencing Strategies Workbook" from our On-line Resource Library.