HAVE YOU EVER ever been in a meeting with someone and started thinking “why are you telling me this”? You just can’t figure out the reason for the conversation. The other person is being extremely wordy, repeating themselves for no apparent reason and taking a long time to get to the point. If you’re lucky you may know the topic being discussed, but chances are you’re completely confused, bored and disinterested. Unfortunately, this scenario is played out too frequently in business – in the hallway, office and boardroom. What went wrong? The person speaking probably spent too much time think about what they wanted to say, and not enough time thinking about how they were going to say it. They may be an expert in their field and have great ideas, but in the end the influencing situation was not successful because they didn’t effectively deliver their message. Their communication lacked coherence.
WHY DO WE sometimes fail in our efforts to influence another person? It may be because we are not focusing our attention on the right thing. The natural tendency is to look at every situation from our own point of view. We consider first the ways we need help, believe our own recommendations are best and set agendas that cater to our personal priorities.
WE ALL KNOW the importance of building relationships with our clients as a prelude to winning business and seeing it grow. We attend seminars, read extensively and even participate in day-long training programmes on the subject. Management teams hold lengthy strategy sessions to devise better ways of ensuring long-term relationships exist, and that sales personnel develop them proactively.
BEING ABLE TO exert influence is an essential skill in the modem business world. Managers leading a team, colleagues looking for cooperation and employees angling for a promotion all need to know how to influence others.
IN YEARS PAST, a few senior executives would make all the major business decisions and it was the responsibility of people further down the hierarchy to carry them out. Legions of corporate foot-soldiers were hired, not to think and definitely not to decide, but rather to do what they were told. It was management by decree, and such methods were used to make many a fortune and to build empires.
WE COMMONLY HEAR the phrase “just be yourself”, but following that advice is not necessarily the best thing do to if you want to increase your chances of influencing someone else. In fact, in many situations you are likely to have much greater success if you deliberately modify your own behaviour and personal style of communication to accommodate the person you are dealing with.