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Do You Know How You Influence Others?

  March 3, 2023

We influence others all the time, but do you know how we do it? Many leaders, managers and sales professionals have the idea that influencing is a complex, often subtle, process of persuasion that either works or doesn't. In reality, the Center for Creative Leadership has found that influencing tactics fall into one of three categories: logical, emotional or cooperative.

“Looking at the wide array of behaviors and tactics leaders use to influence others, we've found that influencing involves making appeals based on logic, emotion or sense of cooperation. The most effective influencers know how to utilize all three approaches," says CCL's David Baldwin. "We call this influencing with head, heart and hands.”

Logical appeals (head) tap into people's rational and intellectual positions. You present an argument for the best choice of action based on organizational and/or personal benefits. Tactics include:

  • Objectively and logically explaining your reasons in a clear and compelling way
  • Offering factual and detailed evidence that your proposal is feasible without overstating or being unrealistic
  • Demonstrating clearly and logically why your idea is the best possible option, showing that you have carefully considered other possibilities
  • Explaining individual benefits, such as gaining more visibility, learning new skills or improving the work in a way that makes the job easier or more interesting

Emotional appeals
 (heart) connect your message or goal to an important emotional motivator. An idea that promotes a person's feelings of well-being, service or sense of belonging has a good chance of gaining support. Ways to do this include:

  • Connecting to an individual's goals and values
  • Describing the task with enthusiasm and expressing confidence in the person's ability to accomplish it
  • Linking your request to a clear and appealing vision the person can fully support
  • Appealing to the person's self-image

Cooperative appeals
 (hands) build a connection between you, the person you are trying to influence and others to get support for your proposal. Working together to accomplish a mutually important goal extends a hand to others in the organization and is an extremely effective way of influencing. Building those connections includes:

  • Involving others in the process of deciding how to carry out your goals
  • Engaging credible people to help you influence others
  • Reducing difficulty by removing barriers to success
  • Thoughtfully responding to concerns and suggestions

To maximize our personal influence, we need to understand our own style of influencing. What tactics do you currently use? Do you rely exclusively on logical appeals? If so, you're missing the chance to engage people through their emotions, values and relationships. If you overemphasize emotional or cooperative appeals, you may be leaving out the data and rationale that is critical information to have in a plan.

“As you learn new approaches and gain experience using different influence tactics, you will gain more confidence in your influencing skills,” says Baldwin.

It is also very useful to understand how others respond to different styles of influencing. Do they need the emotional approach- do they need to "feel good" about something before taking action? Will they best get into action with a cooperative approach- feeling like they are part of a team with you? Or are they most likely to be moved by a logical, well thought-out style? Getting to know your customer, team-mates or employees and what moves them will support you in being a strong influencer.

Learn from Others

You can get better at influencing by using a mentor, colleague or coach to help develop your skills. Look for influential people in your organization or community. Watch what they do and say and how they handle their opportunities to influence.

Article excerpts taken from the Harvard Business Revue



Master Certified Coach

Coaching professionally since 1989, Susan founded Success Technologies, Inc. in 1990, and has a Master Certified Coach designation, the highest designation awarded by the International Coaching Federation. As part of the team that founded Coach U, I helped develop what is now considered one of the premier coach training programs in the world, sat on the Advisory Board for three years, and was a senior trainer, training the trainers. Thomas J. Leonard, founder of Coach U and the ICF, and author of The Portable Coach, was my mentor coach.




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