Influencing Behaviours I

Using What You Bring To The Situation

In some influencing situations, what we call “your agenda” will be paramount.  Your agenda means everything that you bring to the situation, which is important to you:

  • your thoughts, views, ideas, proposals
  • your feelings about the issue
  • what you want or need to happen.
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To maximise your chances of success requires the clear, open, honest and direct use of the three key ASSERTIVE BEHAVIOURS:

  1. Persuading with reasons
  2. Expressing feelings
  3. Making requests

Use of these three behaviours should leave the other person in no doubt as to where you stand and what is important to you.  It is important, however, to keep your body language, words and voice all congruent and assertive or the impact may come across as aggressive, regardless of your intent.

Persuading With Reason

What It Is

An ability to bring about change through persuasion is vital in meetings, negotiations and many other work place situations.  This style originates in the “head” as it is logical, unemotional and calm.

It requires you to be clear in your mind about what you are going to say and why.  This style, as with influence behaviours, requires thought before speech.  A well thought through and delivered proposition or argument is often difficult to ignore.  The aim is to put forward your ideas and suggestions with a sense of commitment and reason so that they are taken seriously.

Preparation is important.  Deciding on sufficient reasons and structuring them so that they have the right impact will make a significant difference between “limp” suggestions and those that are credible.  Too many reasons and the message will be lost.  Not enough and there will be no weight.  Three is a good number with the most important one first.

Being confident and succinct is important with this behaviour.

It is worth being aware that many of us tend to use this style via a question “Wouldn’t it be a good idea if ……?”  “Does anybody think we should ……?”.  This generally means that you think it would be a good idea!  So say so!


Expressing Feelings

What It Is

Many of us find it difficult to disclose emotion to others.  Too often, we retreat behind our view or stating what we want.

Feelings are something we are often taught to suppress.  This can result in uncontrolled outbursts at inappropriate times or stress caused by bottling up unacknowledged feelings.

However, in many circumstances it can prove highly influential to reveal how we are feeling in order to move the situation forward.  However, I need to feel OK about myself and be secure in my self-esteem to do this.  It is also important to distinguish between using feelings to influence and using them to dump, punish someone or as a cathartic release!

We can use influential feelings to bring about change and also to reinforce someone’s behaviour to get them to do more of it!

Feelings come from the heart.  They are owned and personal.  They cannot be denied or challenged easily.

If we use our feelings to influence the situation we do it to get a response, to have an impact.  Too much use of this behaviour may mean we are experienced as aggressive, so caution is important.  Timing is everything.  It may be appropriate to introduce a feeling into a volatile situation, it may be better to wait and convey it privately to an individual.  On the other hand, a positive emotion expressed in public can have remarkable impact and elicit buy in.

This behaviour can be effective when linked with making requests, for example “Right now I feel frustrated because we are not making progress in this meeting so I would like us to stick to the agenda from now on”.

Making Requests

What It Is

Assertive behaviour results from a genuine respect for oneself and others.  We should aim to feel OK about ourselves, valuing what we can contribute and not needing to win or defeat someone else.

Asking for what I want and need is a strong assertive behaviour.  It is rooted firmly in accepting that I’m OK and have the right to ask for things/responses from others.  Not because they are wrong or I need to prove a point, but because I want to communicate something and would like the other person to understand my agenda.  This behaviour originates from the “gut” – from deep within.  Unlike persuading, this behaviour does not require the backup of reasons – just your conviction that you want it enough!

Some people find this behaviour difficult because it contradicts early childhood messages.  Nonetheless, effective influencers use this behaviour successfully and appropriately.  Excessive use could be interpreted as aggression.


Saying “No”

This involves setting limits for yourself and accepting that you have the right to say “no”.  If you avoid this, you may build up resentment and develop manipulative ways of saying “no”.  When you are asked for something consider your “gut” reaction.  Ask for more information or time if needed – clearly and unambiguously.  If you feel the need to, admit that you are uncomfortable in saying “no”, but do not put yourself down in the process.  If appropriate, give a reason and offer an alternative.  Remember you are saying “no” to the request not rejecting the person!  Being able to say “no” positively and assertively is a key behaviour in effective influence.

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