In this brief video, B. Kim Barnes introduces some of the main concepts and models of the popular global training program: Exercising Influence™ as a way to improve our abilities in influencing others.
Keep Your Influence Goal in Mind
“When a man does not know what harbor he is making
for, no wind is the right wind.”
One of the most important aspects of successful influencing is developing and clarifying your influence goals. There are opportunities in every influence situation to be distracted from your real intended goal or goals. Take a little time ahead to plan, and use the following techniques.
Write down your goal(s). The act of writing helps to clarify and focus goals, and being able to review something written allows others to reflect on the content and clarity of your goals. Write your goals in complete detail. The more information you provide, the clearer the final outcome becomes, and the more likely you are to find a suitable path to achieving that outcome.
Focus on the positive. Work for what you want, not what you don’t want. What do you want the other person or persons to do? It is actually easier to get someone to do something than to not do something. If I ask you to NOT think of a pink elephant, what do you immediately think of? It works the same when trying to influence someone to stop doing something. What can we find for them to do instead of the undesirable behavior? Instead of a goal like “getting Bob to stop shooting every idea down,” we might focus on influencing Bob to agree to let everyone put forward ideas without any interruptions before discussion, analysis, or “shooting” begins. With many ideas “on the table” at once, it’s harder to shoot everything down without good reason.
Make sure your goals are not contradictory. When achieving one goal jeopardizes the success of another goal, look again at your written goals to see if there might be a way to modify them to minimize conflicts. If your goal is to get a raise or quit, how might that effect influencing your spouse to take a vacation next month? Once again, writing down your goals will help you find potential problems or conflicts before you begin trying to achieve them.
Use positive visualization to enhance the likelihood of reaching your goals. See yourself as having successfully influenced others to your stated goal or goals. Visualize what your success will look like. Positive visualization feels bit “touchy-feely woo-woo” to some people, yet it has been and continues to be used with tremendous success in virtually every Olympic and professional athletic sport for the last thirty years. Visualize what your goals will look like after achieving them. What will be different or better after you have reached a goal? Will you be happy with the outcomes that result from your goal achievement? If you see some potential pitfalls to your goal achievement, what could you change in your goal statement to address those pitfalls?
Test your assumptions. While it may be difficult at times to ask a trusted colleague or friend to “edit” your goal statements, having someone else read and comment on your goals will test the clarity and validity of the goals. If someone else has trouble understanding what your intended goal outcome is, you are much less likely to achieve it.
“By losing your goal, you have lost your way.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche
As an example, let’s say we are trying to improve staff productivity through the use of new software, and want to influence the team to effectively participate in software training. We need to be clear on our real goals for a successful outcome. There is a big difference between training staff in how to operate new software and training them in how to do their jobs with the new software. In the first case, we show them what happens when they click various menu choices, radio buttons, and combo boxes. In the second case, we have to explain the new business process, how it’s different from what they’re accustomed to, and how they’re supposed to perform the role or roles they play in it. We need to be sure our goal statement reflects the real outcome or outcomes we intend.
Remember to write down your goal statements for any influence situations that seem even a little complex, or the outcome is important, and particularly when more than one or two people need to be influenced at the same time. Written goal statements are tremendously powerful tools in effective influencing, and should be practiced regularly for maximum benefit. Really thinking about and writing out your influence goals ahead of time can help keep you focused on the necessary course of action to achieve them, and will go a long way towards creating successful outcomes.