Effective leadership and communication today relies more than ever on influencing others — impacting their ideas, opinions, and actions. While influence has always been a valuable managerial skill, today's highly collaborative organizations make it essential. Research from the Harvard Business Review has found that there are five main influencing styles:
- Rationalizing: Do you use logic, facts, and reasoning to present your ideas? Do you leverage your facts, logic, expertise, and experience to persuade others?
- Asserting: Do you rely on your personal confidence, rules, law, and authority to influence others? Do you insist that your ideas are heard and considered, even when others disagree? Do you challenge the ideas of others when they don't agree with yours? Do you debate with or pressure others to get them to see your point of view?
- Negotiating: Do you look for compromises and make concessions in order to reach an outcome that satisfies your greater interest? Do you make tradeoffs and exchanges in order to meet your larger interests? If necessary, will you delay the discussion until a more opportune time?
- Inspiring: Do you encourage others toward your position by communicating a sense of shared mission and exciting possibility? Do you use inspirational appeals, stories, and metaphors to encourage a shared sense of purpose?
- Bridging: Do you attempt to influence outcomes by uniting or connecting with others? Do you rely on reciprocity, engaging superior support, consultation, building coalitions, and using personal relationships to get people to agree with your position?
The first step is to be aware of what your influencing style is. “You can manage what you have measured” is a key belief here at Quantified Communications. By using concrete communication metrics, you are able to not only identify your own influencing style, but also easily learn how to adapt your communication to the styles of others. Cognitive behavioral research shows that we are prone to agree more with people who use an influencing style similar to our own. For example, if you recognize that your audience wants to be inspired, you can change your vocabulary to encompass uplifting, inspirational terms. If you are working with a person who tends to rationalize, you should be prepared to back up your opinions with tangible facts.
Taking it a step further, we can learn to use multiple influencing styles. According to a study from MIT Sloan Management Review, people who use a combination of influencing strategies are ten times more likely to create lasting change. If we can quickly recognize the style of the person we are talking to and adapt to that style, we have a greater chance of influencing that person. Being able to influence others effectively is a key leadership skill to have - influence is the difference between sharing your point of view and using that point of view to move people to action.