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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Become an Influencer-Learning the Art of Persuasion


Improving on communication skills and influencing is extremely important for potential success.  A paper by Johnson and Young (2012) discusses the concepts of influencing others to achieve objectives. Their advice appears to be practical in the sense that it continues to expand the network creating more adherents. It also takes into account the natural resistance people display and how to overcome those concerns. 

Most people tune out a significant amount of daily conversation and lots of information is lost from one day to the next. To attract someone’s interests it is sometimes necessary to do or ask something interesting. In sales they may call this “making the pitch” but in daily conversation it is more of “tuning in” to potential engagement.

Most people are receptive to things that help them. Explaining concepts through their vantage point and the potential benefits of certain actions helps them to visualize the possibilities. Focusing on encouraging others to engage the solution is helpful to developing personal influence.  You can’t be influential without other people.

Before one can properly influence others they need to have the right questions. This is a process of brainstorming and thinking about all of the alternatives. Asking the right questions can prompt other people to start thinking about the answers and if their answers logically lead to your conclusions you are likely to find support.

Each organization comes with other influencers and connecting them together creates systematic impact. Communicating with opinion leaders and power brokers creates the ability to render converts to a cause and then move those ideas throughout an organization. The more people, who hear, understand and pass on the concepts the more influence that is created. 

People want to quantify the concepts. They want to envision, touch, taste and see the ideas. Speaking in terms of tangibles helps people understand and create a mental framework that solidifies the concepts. This allows them to formalize, ponder, and finally conclude with their agreement.

People want to understand your message. Use the language of your audience. This means using the terms, vocabulary, education level and at times even the slang others use. Helping people understand the message means speaking in a way that allows for easy connection to the concepts. 

It is beneficial to work in a group and allow multiple vantage points and perspectives to make their way into the solutions. Doing so will afford greater allies in your quest. People have varying perspectives and these perspectives can be used to help ensure that concepts make sense to a greater amount of people. 

Developing greater presentations with graphics, charts, and content helps people solidify the information. Just like in sales a great presentation can provide for higher levels of understanding. It can draw interest and put things in a tangible form. 

Don’t believe that you are infallible. Continually learn from your mistakes to improve upon your influencing abilities. Some things work while others do not. If you continue to learn you are likely to improve over time and create greater abilities. 

The report doesn’t talk about truth but it should be included as an influencing argument. People don’t want someone to “pull the wool over their eyes” or “blow smoke” and will be naturally resistant to those who have an unyielding agenda. Rightly so, an over demanding agenda means they have not evaluated the alternatives and their concerns are limited. People want to hear the strengths and potential pitfalls so that they can understand the credibility of the speaker. Those who think they know all the answers usually don’t. 

Johns, W. & Young, N. (2012). Power of persuasion: becoming the influencer. Facilities Manager, 28 (3)

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