And they will still like you afterwards!
Influencing is an essential skill in business (and in life). And yet, convincing another person to believe (or do) something can be a grueling process. How do you persuade someone without them feeling as if they’ve lost a battle or are somehow inferior? The good news is that the art of influencing with integrity is a skill that can be learned. It involves using simple communication with gentle assertiveness. The goal is to arrive at a win-win conclusion between equals—without anyone feeling coerced or defeated. After all, in the words of Victor Hugo: “I don’t attach much importance to victory. Nothing is so stupid as to conquer; true glory lies in convincing.”
It is important to point out that we’re not talking here about manipulation. We all know individuals who don the mask of the perfect manipulator in order to defeat others, and their motivation is often malicious. In psychology, mental manipulation occurs when someone is false in their communication in order to get someone else to agree to an idea or a project despite an initial reluctance. The issue with manipulation is that there is a lack of authenticity inherent in it, which will negatively impact your work relations. Instead, you can learn to influence with integrity.
Communication: Use the power of words to influence and convince
The power of a message is determined by the reaction it causes. Whatever your intention, if your message leaves the other person unmoved, confused or worse, upset, then your words missed their mark.
Your choice of words will have a direct impact on your ability to persuade. Tailor your message to make it powerful, irresistible, and seductive. Use words that have impact, like “new,” “extra,” “unique,” “results,” “proven,” and “success” —all words that strongly resonate with an audience, appealing to the imagination and positively influencing them. It’s not a coincidence that these words are found again and again in advertising slogans; they have a proven impact.
These words also help you increase your credibility in the eyes of your clients and prospects. To this end, keep in mind that your audience must first understand you, and then believe you, before accepting your idea or proposal. That’s why your credibility is paramount.
To enhance your credibility, position yourself from the start:
- Clearly demonstrate your abilities. Ask key questions.
For example, explore with the person where they are coming from and where they hope to be. Identify explicit and implicit objectives.
- Offer solutions adapted to their reality, not yours.
Through the communication process, pay attention to the level of engagement of the other person; get their agreement at each stage of the conversation, because language is generative; that is to say, the words you choose either help generate opportunities … or suffocate them.
It is unrealistic to expect that even if the other person says “yes” twice during the presentation that they will necessarily say “yes” at the conclusion. Likewise, be wary if he does nothing but say “yes.” If necessary, ask: “Very good! What do you like about it?” In this way, you will know what to expect.
Develop your communication skills: identifying motivations to convince
If only we had a crystal ball to know the motivations and intentions of others, you may think. Actually, we can uncover motivations … simply by asking!
Many people are so afraid to hear things they don’t want to hear, that they avoid asking questions. And yet, posing questions is a fundamental of interpersonal communication!
Tap directly into the information source. Find out what makes the other person tick by asking questions. If you are able to arm yourself with this insider knowledge then you will be able to shape a well-crafted argument and deliver it with integrity.
There is a plethora of techniques to enable a quick study of your environment (via sensory acuity). These perceptions allow you to adjust your approach by being able to quickly identify clues to help you assess the values, motivations and decision-making processes of another.
Communications skills are like a muscle: they must be used regularly in order to develop and become stronger. Follow the Rule of the 3Ps to grow your ability to persuade and influence others: practice, patience, perseverance.