Your influencing profile

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Written by Tim Baker on 20 November 2013

Everyone has an influencing profile. We all vary in terms of how we are influenced. L&D professionals spend a large proportion of their time influencing people. These opportunities to influence are not confined to the classroom. They may start by persuading their manager of the virtues of a particular programme and its application in a particular work setting. 

Some people will be more effective than others in terms of their capacity to influence others. But all of us should work hard at developing our capacity to influence. 

Those that appreciate the investigative strategy are more liable to be persuaded by the thorough and logical way a case is put to them. Others may be more receptive to the articulation strategy. In other words, when introducing a proposal, people who clearly articulate the pros of the new and cons of the old will resonate with these people. If the benefits outweigh the downsides, the person is sold. Some people will be receptive to the association strategy; they are influenced by the big picture. In other words, they are persuaded by a vision of how something may help achieve a big, overall goal. And others find the collaborative strategy appealing. These people respond well to being engaged in dialogue before they are convinced by an argument. Unless we know the people we need to influence well, we can never be sure which of the four strategies will work with the person or trainees we are attempting to persuade. So the message is this: Use all four approaches when you are trying to influence others. 

This is easier said than done. We tend to put more energy into the strategy that is appealing to us personally. In other words, we try to influence others in the way that we like to be influenced. This is understandable, but not entirely effective. For instance, if we are rational and logical and are best influenced by an investigative approach, we will tend to overuse that approach when we are trying to persuade others. But the problem is that not everyone is influenced by the investigative strategy. So again, the key is to use all four strategies. You are probably going to increase your chance of influencing others by using a multi-dimensional approach. This is why I am suggesting that you use all four strategies to persuade your colleagues. 

In summary, this means that you have demonstrated that you understand the current situation through your thorough research (Investigation). You have made the case for change more persuasive by articulating the pitfalls of the current approach and how those pitfalls can be overcome with a new approach (Articulation). By connecting the change with the strategic direction of the organisation and communicating how the new approach will benefit the organisation as a whole, you have created a common vision (Association). And finally, by consulting with your colleagues in a respectful and professional way, you have engaged them in the process of change (Collaboration). Planning and executing each of the four strategies carefully will significantly increase your odds of influencing the key players in the organisation.

About the author
Dr Tim Baker is an international consultant and managing director of WINNERS AT WORK. He can be contacted via www.winnersatwork.com.au
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