What's your influencing style?

 

We all have to influence others at some time in our working lives, whether it’s to persuade colleagues to buy into new ways of approaching old tasks or to convince your boss you’re ready for that promotion.

But how often do you take a step back and think strategically about the best way to influence someone in any given situation?

Added on 07 April 2015 by Ian Hayward

What's your influencing style?

What’s your influencing style?

We all have to influence others at some time in our working lives, whether it’s to persuade colleagues to buy into new ways of approaching old tasks or to convince your boss you’re ready for that promotion.

But how often do you take a step back and think strategically about the best way to influence someone in any given situation?

Being equipped with an understanding of different influencing styles – and the circumstances in which different approaches work best – make it much more likely you will achieve your desired outcome.

Influencing techniques can be divided into two categories – push or pull.  ‘Push’ techniques, for example work well in situations where you need to be directive because an issue is urgent or time is at premium, while ‘pull techniques are more facilitative and work well in a situation where you trying to inspire others or bring about collaboration.

So what are the main influencing styles and and when is it best to use them?

Directive

Directive influencing is very much about not opening up a discussion and a ‘My way or the high way’ approach. Examples of how people may phrase a directive influencing message are:

“What I expect from you is...”
“I think we should do this…”.

The directive approach to influencing is most appropriately used when:

  • There is limited time
  • Decisions are required quickly
  • The individuals you are influencing are not experts in the respective area
  • You are working with less knowledgeable people
  • You have a high level of credibility

Persuasive Reasoning

Persuasive reasoning is about strengthening your case for something using research or evidence, and thus the weight of the argument is heavier. Examples of how you may use persuasive reasoning are:

“Recent research shows…”
“Let me state my case…”

The persuasive reasoning style of influencing is most appropriately used when:

  • The people you are influencing are of a similar level
  • You believe strongly in something
  • You have a track record of expertise in the particular area

Collaborative

A collaborative style of influencing is a two way conversation and seeks information as well as offering it. It is primarily about understanding and suggestions. Examples of how you might use a collaborative style are:

“Can I ask a question?”
“Here is a suggestion…”

The collaborative style of influencing is most appropriately used when:

  • There is a wide range of stakeholders that need alignment
  • An acceptance of change is necessary
  • You are not the expert and need some more ideas.
  • In a time of uncertainty

Inspirational

An inspirational style of influencing is when you encourage people to look at a future state that they are able to contribute to by painting a picture or through storytelling. Examples of how you may use an inspirational style are:

“Imagine…”
“I envisage…”
“What if…”

The inspirational style of influencing is most appropriately used when:

  • You wish to encourage creativity
  • There are strategic issues that need resolving
  • You need to get things started
  • You begin a major change programme
  • You wish to gain enthusiasm from individuals

All four influencing styles have their place and can sometimes work well in combination.  We all have a style we tend to prefer – and while you don’t want to appear unpredictable, it’s worth sometimes trying to step outside of the comfort zone of your natural influencing style and experimenting with different approaches.

Activity: Consider an influencing situation you are currently facing

  • What do you consider to be the other parties' current views on the situation?
  • Analyse the advantages and disadvantages of your suggestion from their viewpoint?
  • Use the analysis to work out which influencing style you should adopt and plan out your approach.

This blog has been adapted from Ian Hayward’s latest Virtual Ashridge webinar. Every month a member of Ashridge faculty delivers a one-hour interactive webinar on their area of expertise to the Virtual Ashridge learner audience.

If you are interested in finding out more about Virtual Ashridge and how it could help your organisation please contact us on +44(0) 1442841155 or email virtual@ashridge.org.uk.