Let’s imagine for a second that you have a great new process created for your team, whereby it involves the ability for your team to adopt new approaches and a new way of working. You know that it will force many out of their comfort zone, but still, if you can get buy-in, the financial savings in efficiency are ten-fold.
Alternatively, you may have an exciting new product that you want to release to the market, which could potentially solve an age old problem for many consumers around the globe. Firstly, you just need to convince some stakeholders to buy in to the product in order to get it on the shelves to sell.
In both instances, how would you go about influencing someone to agree with your views and follow your lead?
Being able to successfully influence someone is a challenge in itself, but there are proven influencing tactics that we can all use, which tap into our natural behaviours as individuals and therefore help persuade others into ‘complying’ with what we want them to do.
Influencing people can come from many needs. Typical (but not exhaustive) reasons are:
Whatever it is, a requisite of successful leadership is to be able to communicate effectively and influence stakeholders to enact the desired outcomes.
So, how do you influence a decision?
One of the most popular and favoured set of influence tactics comes from a man called Robert Cialdini.
Cialdini published the six principles of influence in his 1984 book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” and during his studies, prior to his book release, he spent years watching successful salesmen and marketers at work, asking the question, “what makes people buy from them?”
The argument is that we are all from the animal kingdom. Just as we share this trait, we all share the ability to work in auto pilot, if you like – to run on scripts, which are automated and plugged into our basic instincts.
Much like a bird sings, a cow milks, dogs bark, we react to certain influences, which is part of our DNA.
If you think about it; we are exposed to so many stimuli around us, probably more than ever before in the history of the human race. As a result, we just cannot take in all the stimulus and signals consciously.
If we did, we would simply be overloaded and our brains wouldn’t be able to cope.
Cue the automated, subconscious routines.
Our brain consciously chooses the stimulus to focus on and discards the stuff it feels we don’t need to waste time thinking about. So too, many actions are performed without much thinking and in some cases, our natural instincts help us conduct daily lives, whereby we react to stimulus without even knowing, consciously.
Cialdini, as a result, identified six influence tactics that tap into our natural instincts as humans and can be used to help persuade us to adopt certain behaviours. These six key principles of influence, Cialdini argues, are the science behind how we are wired, and whether we like it or not, we respond positively to them. As a result, we can be influenced by people and organisations that use them.
For a more detailed overview, please see the video below of “Influence Tactics”: The science of persuasion. Please feel free to take notes and learn the key principles that can enhance your influencing and leadership skills.
You can use these principles and influence tactics whenever you want to persuade other people to comply with a certain behaviour. Just remember, successful leaders do not manipulate and deceitfully gain advantage. They are open and people-driven leaders, so use the tool fairly and morally.
Consistency / commitment – Try to get their commitment early into the project or conversation. Try too, to get them to commit to something small. There is more chance of them progressing and developing their commitment once they have already contributed something to it. Also, try to get someone to commit to something preferably in writing, perhaps in the form of a SMART objective , or a signing of a project charter, or an agreement to be a part of an improvement project. This provides more of an anchor towards future commitment.
If you are selling a product, provide a small trial period, or taster session to entice the customer to make an initial commitment, or offer a 100% money back guarantee.
Reciprocity – Think about your objectives again and identify how you can give something to the person/s involved. It may even be just a gentle reminder of how you have helped in the past. Try to demonstrate ways to show a little give and that the person/s are benefiting from it. By providing the sense that you have ‘scratched their backs’, they are more inclined to oblige to do something in return.
Liking – Be natural and fair; be open and honest in your actions and have a general interest in people and their welfare. This forms the basis of good leadership and will also begin to build trust, which is one of the branches of liking and respect.
Secondly, provide genuine praise and positive feedback to your team members. Start by observing yourself, and note how many times you give positive to negative feedback in a day. Like most of us, you may be surprised! Aim to give a positive to negative feedback ratio of 3:1.
Develop too, your emotional intelligence and listening skills and don’t go out of your way to be liked. Being yourself and a good leader will ensure that you are genuine and your followers will genuinely believe in you.
Authority – Find ways to show others of your expertise, so everyone can understand your strengths and knowledge.
Scarcity – If you are selling a product, ensure you give the customer a limited time available, in order to buy, or limit the stock, and so on and so forth. The trick here is to demonstrate a clear limitation and also what would happen if you do not ‘comply’ or act.
In terms of influencing people within a team setting, the creation of urgency is key. Again, demonstrate the need to change and what would happen if this is not achieved within a certain period of time. This principle falls nicely into the one of Kotter’s change model steps.
Social Proof – Referring to our change article and the 2:6:2 model, ask the question, “who are those innovators and early adopters that you need to bring on board? And how can you best communicate to everyone that you have critical buy-in and peer followers? Focus on finding the right people and then communicating this message to show support in the programme.
Remember, if you master the art of communication and indeed successful influence tactics, your whole world as a leader can be enhanced.
It can be an extremely effective and rewarding experience to influence those around you to act.
To be able to tap in to the psyche of the human mind using a range of influence tactics and to persuade people in a positive, fair and moral way, will have a profound impact on your role as a leader.