Jonathan Farrington

Article Summary:

Influencing is one of the most important skills a manager can have. This primer includes everything you need to know about what it is, where to use it, and how to go about influencing others.

Influence: What It Is and How to Use It

Question: What is the number one need for success in business today?

Answer: To persuade others of your value and the value of your ideas.

So What Is Influencing?
Influencing is getting your own way, especially unobtrusively.

Most managers do it, most of the time.

  • You can influence others simply be being you (notice how easily children are influenced by the behaviour of those around them)
  • You can influence covertly, behind the scenes
  • You can use more open strategies and tactics

Great influencers manage to get other people to go along with their ideas while maintaining the relationship. If people feel manipulated, relationships will be damaged. It is important to understand the different strategies available to you and to plan your approach.

Mastering The Art:
Increasingly today's managers are measured by their ability to influence others in the workplace. Being able to get people to do what you want has a direct effect on:

  • The well-being of your staff
  • The prosperity of your company
  • And, ultimately, your own destiny

You are probably already successful at influencing others - some of the time. How can you become consistently successful? If you can identify your strengths and weaknesses and make a few changes, nothing can hold you back.

Typical Areas Of Open Influence:
A lot of the time, especially in business, influencing is necessary and we accept it as part of human communication. It operates openly and usually follows a recognised process. Open influence can be seen in:

  • Meetings
  • Presentations
  • Sales conversations
  • Debates and discussions
  • Change management
  • Reports
  • Proposals
  • Negotiations
  • Performance management
  • Process management

  • Typical Areas Of Hidden Influence:
    Influence can also operate in a less open and direct manner. Your behaviour will be noticed by others, even though you are not necessarily trying to influence them. Your words will always be interpreted, however subtle or oblique. In short - whether we mean to influence or not - we are constantly beaming out influential messages to the world.

    Hidden influence, which is often delicate, slow and on-going, works well in the following areas:

  • Changing an image or behaviour
  • Altering attitude
  • Communicating non-verbally
  • Developing and maintaining rapport
  • Networking
  • Counselling others
  • Acting as a mentor
  • Maintaining customer relations
  • Using metaphor and analogy
  • What Makes An Effective Influencer?
    Winning influencers share attitudes and behaviours that ensure consistent success. Studies have shown that they:

    • Indicate the benefits of their ideas
    • Neutralise resistance, preferably in advance
    • Find alternative ways to influence others
    • Listen attentively to what others say
    • Uncover needs and wants
    • Empathise continuously
    • Notice how others respond
    • Create and maintain rapport throughout
    • Eliminate weak statements from their language
    • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

    In Summary: Five Easy Steps To Influence
    Here are the five main steps to effective influential communication. Make this pattern second nature, leaving you to concentrate on the detail.

    1) Gain Rapport: Be on their level, recognise their beliefs and values; match their behaviour patterns and blend your personality characteristics with theirs.

    2) Ask Questions: Elicit needs and different responses; probe to identify their motives, attitudes and feeling.

    3) Listen Actively: Demonstrate that you are listening: listen with all your senses; suspend judgement.

    4) Stress Pertinent Benefits: Summarise how specific benefits of your proposal accurately reflect their needs.

    5) Work Towards A Decision: Ask questions that will force a decision (or rejection); test interest through hypothetical questions; make positive statements which assume their acceptance.

    Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author and consultant, who has guided hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals around the world towards optimum performance levels. Formerly Jonathan was the Managing Partner of The jfa Group which he founded in 1994. Now he is the Chairman of The Sales Corporation and CEO of Top Sales Associates. Full details are available on Jonathan's website at

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