Communicating with influence

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Written by Tim Baker on 31 January 2014

Some people are better at it than others; influencing that is. As L&D folk, we are in the business of influencing learners. Here below is my new model of influencing I have called it the Influencing Capabilities Model. It will be the subject of a new book soon.

The model consists of 16 capabilities associated with four influencing strategies. You will note that the two columns show two well-known influencing styles: Push and Pull. Push is the more assertive, direct style and Pull is a gentler, indirect style. The two rows illustrate two different approaches to influencing: logical and emotional. Logic is based on fact and rational argument and Emotional is more to do with 'tugging at the heart strings'. Here is a brief overview of the four strategies and how they relate to learning and development.

Investigation

The strategy of Investigation essentially means to be influential by gathering the facts and presenting them in a logical and compelling way. The presentation of a logical, coherent, assertive argument based on well-founded research is a powerful way to influence. This is the trainer's 'bread and butter'. Any trainer on any topic need to be well researched and their presentation should have a logical flow.

Articulation

The strategy of articulation essentially means to be influential through articulating the pitfalls of the current approach and how those pitfalls can be overcome with a new approach. When trainers are introducing any new learning, they should spend time convincing learners of the advantages of the new way and the disadvantages of the old way as a means of leveraging influence.

Association

Moving to the emotional approaches, the strategy of association essentially means to be influential by associating the change with a clear, compelling and common vision. People who can paint a convincing picture of the future and inspire people with their vision are very powerful. This is a well-known adult learning principle; that is, linking the training to the 'big picture'. The trainer needs to respond to the fundamental questions from participants: What's in it for me? And how will I benefit from this learning?

Collaboration

The strategy of collaboration essentially means to be influential through building trust and shared ownership of the proposal. People are generally more likely to be influenced by someone in favour of something if they feel they have been genuinely consulted. From a learning and development perspective we need to engage our participants in the learning experience and not be unnecessarily didactic.

We all favour one of these four strategies over the other three. Which is your favoured approach? Interestingly, our favoured approach is the approach that is most likely to influence us too.

The important message for L&D professionals is this: Consciously use all four approaches in all your presentations to maximise your influencing capability.

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