Everyone wants to be able to have an impact—to know that the things that they’re doing really matter. There’s a drive to influence our circumstances and the people around us. While the ability to influence others doesn’t come naturally to everyone, however, it’s certainly a skill that can be learned.
At SNI, we offer comprehensive influence training, teaching our clients how to work with and influence others by helping them to understand the people with whom they’re working. Our clients often call these types of courses we offer “impact training” as they are all about how to make an impact on others. The content we cover is more than we can lay out in a single blog post, but we’d like to introduce you to a few of the core elements. To get the full benefit, take a look at our influence training program.
Ancient Strategies Adapted to a Modern Environment
Whether you’re talking about influence training for salespeople or any other of our impact training programs to help in general interactions, it all goes back thousands of years to Aristotle. The ancient philosopher taught about three elements to influence: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos—credibility, emotion, and logic, respectively. What that means is that in order to influence someone, you need to convince them that you know what you’re talking about, then appeal to both their hearts and their minds. Even now, thousands of years later, Aristotle’s philosophies hold true.
Show What You Know
In order to persuade someone of anything, you first must convince them that you’re worth listening to. Essentially, you have to demonstrate your credibility to them. While the heart of this is proving your knowledge of the subject you are discussing—whether that is a product or service you offer or a policy you are hoping to influence—it goes beyond that. You must also convince them that you have a full understanding of the situation from all perspectives, particularly that of the other person. They need to feel that you have their best interest in mind. If you can’t show that you see where they are coming from, it will be difficult to have any effect on them.
In order to build credibility, you need to listen closely to what the other party is saying. If you are working on a sales floor, chances are the other person has come to you with some need they are hoping to fill. Ask them questions to figure out what that need is, then actively address it. To truly demonstrate your understanding, listening is at least as important as talking, so pay attention.
Forging a Connection
Although some people claim to remain detached during any negotiation, there is an emotional component to any negotiation. That’s why one of the core skills you will find as part of any impact training is the ability to forge a connection with someone else. As you demonstrate an understanding of your audience, you can establish common ground and use language that they will respond to. Some words are charged with particular emotions, and as you learn more about your audience, you can use those words to evoke an emotional response.
Quick Tip on Forging Relationships: Next time you have a conversation with someone listen to which sense they tend to use the most – do they say “I heard this…”, “I felt like…”, I keep seeing…”, “I could smell…”, or “I could taste…”? People tend to use one sense more than others, if you mirror (mimic the other side – in this case, focus on that describing an experience with that same sense) you will find that the other party is more receptive, which in turn can help develop a connection.
Walk Them Through the Steps
Once you’ve established your credibility and made a connection with someone, you’ve earned some degree of trust. This means that they are more likely to pay attention to your logical appeal. Careful not to be condescending, you should lay out each point, citing facts, statistics, and other evidence to back up what you are saying. During your logical appeal, don’t embellish with flowery language; simply lay out each point, leading them to your conclusion. End with a specific call to action to give your audience a purpose on which they can act.
When you are trying to influence someone, whether to agree to a proposal or to make a purchase, it’s important not to push. The instant someone feels as though you are trying to push them in a specific direction, the natural response is to resist. In the end, even if you’re able to convince them, it will likely leave a sour taste in their mouth, which can cause distrust down the road. Someone once said that the definition of the word “diplomacy” is “the ability to let someone else get your way.” At SNI, that is what we teach, but we do it in a way that focuses on finding solutions that benefit you, while ensuring that others are satisfied in the process.