Here is a quick reminder of what we have covered in the last 2 modules.
There is no one universal best influencing style – it depends on many factors!
Having said this, I believe that there is a very simple, structured approach which will be applicable in many situations. There are 3 overlapping stages:
This approach is broadly sequential – we begin with discovery and move through motivation to persuasion – but there is considerable overlap, and discovery and motivation continue throughout the influencing process.
This approach takes into account the hard-wired cognitive biases and emotional triggers, operating automatically and unconsciously, that distort and channel our rational thinking; logic alone rarely persuades. Discovery and Motivation make the other person receptive to your Persuasion.
Our 3-stage influencing approach begins with you Discovering as much as you can about the situation and the other person so that you can choose the most appropriate influencing styles. You want to know about such things as:
The essential skills in this stage will be active listening and questioning – though both of these will be important throughout the influencing process.
Next, you will motivate them to ‘want to agree’ with you. How? By lowering their natural defences and creating positive emotions through appropriate body language, tonality and the use of unconscious connection triggers. You will also use the 5Cs to develop trust.
As you move into persuasion, you will continue to work on an emotional level by involving them and appealing to unconscious triggers. These approaches produce positive feelings leading to:
They also strengthen the motivation to want to agree with you – and, of course, if they have been involved, it is partly their idea too. You are creating a bias in your favour, making the other person more receptive to your proposal. Imagery and stories simplify complex ideas and help the other person to visualize positive outcomes.
Our approach is emotional first and rational second because that is how the human brain processes information. E-motions draw people towards the decisions and actions that you want but there is usually a need for them to rationalize, to justify their decision and that’s where the Logic style comes in. However, even here, we humans are not as rational as we would like to think. There are many hard-wired cognitive biases that can be activated to nudge people in your direction.
Let me be clear, I am not saying that in every influencing scenario you have to use all of these elements. There will be many situations in which your relationship and understanding with the other person mean that you can move straight to logic. The way you combine the influencing styles, your influence recipe, will be driven by your existing knowledge and what you learned during the initial Discover phase.
Logic may not be sufficient to get complete agreement, and it is then that the bargaining begins. If you have employed our Discover-Motivate followed by emotions-first Persuasion model, then bargaining can still result in positive feelings – with all the attendant benefits. Unfortunately, it can also lead to a sense of lose-lose, where neither party feels happy.
Finally, there is telling. Even when you have the power, you should usually try to avoid this approach as it creates negative feelings, producing:
But again, there are occasions on which telling is the most appropriate style, if only to show the other person what will happen if they wish to pursue a combative or confrontational approach themselves.
By beginning with involvement and emotions, there is the possibility of gaining the benefits of discretionary effort, proactive compliance, commitment and easier future interactions. But you don’t lose the opportunity to switch styles and move to a bargaining or telling approach if you are unsuccessful – the same is unlikely to be true if you begin on the right-hand side of the model.
You are more likely to influence someone if you consider what they get from your proposal. Be careful not to be too restrictive. Beyond the tangible benefits people are also seeking:
… and so on. These may be unconscious desires that are only activated when you push the right buttons – sometimes you have to help people to recognize what they want.