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Leadership development

10 ways of influencing others at work

September 15, 2020

10 ways of influencing others and when to use them. We provide examples of the kinds of values or personality types to which this influencing style appeals.

How does it work?

When you are seeking to influence someone, reference the 9 styles below.

1. Legitimizing

Using authority to influence rules, process, laws, regulations:

  • “According to policy guidelines”
  • “The head of engineering said”
  • “In a note to employees the CEO commented”

Works well with:  Those who value power, following rules and respected image (Schwartz Values).

Caution: This style may not go down well with those that value autonomy.

2. Logical reasoning

Using logic facts, evidence and data

  • Be clear about assumptions
  • Use the ladder on inference
  • Use questions to explore disconnects in logic

Works well with:  Organised personalities (Big Five Personality traits).

Caution: when situation is emotionally charged, let people express emotions.

3. Consulting

Inviting contributions and sharing ownership of a plan

  • Start with a rough plan
  • Ask for assistance and ideas
  • Ask open questions
  • Use ideas and suggestions and play back to the person that was consulted

Works well with:  Collaborator and expressive personalities (Big Five Personality traits).

Caution:  You need to remain genuinely open to new ideas and willing to change plan.

4. Appealing to friendship

Asking for assistance based on friendship or membership of a group

  • Jayne, I need some help on this – would you do me a favour?
  • I’m sorry to impose, but I need your help

Works well with:  Collaborator personalities (Big Five Personality traits) and those who value loyalty or fun & pleasure (Schwartz values).

Caution:  There needs to be a solid basis of friendship, rather than assumed!

5. Socialising

Behaving in a warm and friendly manner to encourage cooperation from strangers

  • Developing social networks
  • Being in their “territory” and understanding their motivations
  • Using effective listening skills and empathy
  • Finding common interests

Works well with:  Collaborator and expressive personalities (Big Five Personality traits) and those who value fun & pleasure (Schwartz values).

Caution:  Needs to be sincere not manufactured.

6. Stating

Clearly stating what you want

  • Make a polite but direct request
  • Assert with confidence; not using language like I think….
  • Provide enough facts to substantiate
  • Anticipate objections

Works well with: Down-to-earth personalities (Big Five Personality traits) and those who value following rules and respected image (Schwartz values).

Caution:  Don’t over substantiate or you'll end up using logical reasoning.

7. Appealing to values

Influencing based on values, feelings and emotions

  • Build trust and understanding of values
  • You must be inspired to inspire
  • Appeal to the person’s values
  • Stay consistent to the vision

Works well with: Collaborative personalities (Big Five Personality traits).

Caution:  There needs to be shared values for this to work

8. Modeling

Demonstrate the actions you wish to be taken, behave in the manner you wish others to behave

  • Practice what you preach
  • Be a coach and mentor
  • Give constructive feedback
  • Let others have space to practice and learn by doing

Works well with: Those who modesty (Schwartz values).

Caution: If you don’t practice what you preach – you lose credibility.

9. Reciprocation

Trading something of value for support and cooperation

  • Understand the person's needs & interests
  • Think win-win
  • Make benefits of exchange clear
  • Follow through on the exchange

Works well with: Collaborative personalities (Big Five Personality traits) and those who value fairness (Schwartz values).

Caution: Avoid having “hidden agendas”, be transparent in the exchange.

10. Alliance building

Strengthen your influence through a network of support

  • Ensure a shared purpose for the alliance
  • Get visible people to buy into the alliance
  • Advisory groups, technical panels, customer boards
  • Can take time to form
  • Use other influencing tactics depending on the profile of the alliance member

Works well with: Collaborative and expressive personalities (Big Five Personality traits).

Caution: Beware of conflicts of interests between alliance members

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