Regardless of your level in the organization, your impact at work is highly correlated with your ability to influence others. Whether you are trying to persuade your manager to change a behavior that is hurting your effectiveness, convince a client to adopt a new work practice, or get your company to embrace a new business strategy, your ability to influence others is crucial to your effectiveness.
Consider the following scenario: you are presenting a proposal to a group to get them to adopt a new work process. The members of this group are very happy with the current process and have already convinced themselves that they do not need a new process. You, on the other hand, are convinced that while these processes run smoothly, they are not sufficiently efficient to keep the company competitive in the long term. Although these processes were once state-of-the-art, the competition is rapidly closing the gap and may soon overtake your company.
Here is the question: which of the following two approaches should you adopt?
a. Start by confirming your mutual interests, and then explain the cons of the current process and the pros of the new process.
b. Start by confirming your mutual interests and then acknowledge the pros of the current process and the cons of changing to a new process.
If you answered “a”, you are in the majority. But is this the most effective approach?
If you know your audience is likely to oppose your ideas, first discuss the issues and concerns that are uppermost in their minds. If you are proposing a change, you demonstrate your understanding of the audience’s views by focusing first on the pros of the current process and the cons of changing to a new process. Tell them you share their concerns – and mean it! Only after you demonstrate your understanding of, and concern for, their needs, will they trust you sufficiently to listen to your views on the issue.
Download our job-tool, Four Keys to the Perfect Pitch, to discover the most effective ways to influence others and to receive a guide to prepare for any persuasive presentation.
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