What is influencing? Influencing is a skill set where our behaviour or approach is used to change someone else's thought process. You may have a new idea that you want others to buy into and accept and need to bring those people around to your way of thinking. Another example may be that you want to see a behavioural change in someone or there is something that you need from someone else.
We influence all of the time. We do this without even knowing it. As we demonstrate body language constantly, people read this body language and perceive what we are thinking and how we are feeling. The fact that they choose how to deal with us means that we have influenced them. We can influence positively or negatively in these situations.
The term influencer is used a lot in today's world - for example in the context of a social media influencer. This is normally a famous person or someone who has amassed a large social media following. They will be paid by a company to say they use their product. The fact that people know them and follow them will likely mean many of the people will be influenced to buy that product because the influencer uses it too. This is known as social proof.
What is Influencing?
To help answer the question of what is influencing we can start with a definition. Influencing comes from the word influence.
As you can see, the words in the definition of influence are words such as force and produce effects. This means that influence causes a change or a movement. Then the next part covers words such as actions, behaviour and opinions.
So what is influencing? You could see influencing as changing the actions, behaviour or opinions of someone else. What we are trying to do when influencing is to change the opinion, actions or behaviour of someone else, but to change these things in such a way that they become more like ours - in other words, bring someone round to our way of thinking.
While we do influence people all of the time with our body language and other actions, this is done unconsciously. When we use the skill of influencing it's important to understand that we must do this consciously or purposefully. This is why influencing is classed as a skill.
How to Influence Others
We now have more of an answer to the what is influencing question. We can now look briefly at how to influence others. There are a number of different theories and models that can help us to achieve successful influencing. These are:
- Robert Cialdini's 6 Principles of Influence and Persuasion
- McKinsey's Influence Model
- 4 Influencing Styles
Here is a list of things that you can do to influence successfully:
- Know what you want – Start with knowing what you want as an outcome. This will give you something to aim for
- Explain your position clearly – Explain the reasons behind your thinking and why you think your idea or position is a good one
- Inspire them with a clear vision – Paint a picture of the future that shows the benefits of taking onboard your idea
- Use facts to back up your case- Bring and use evidence to support your position. Help people to see that there are tangible benefits to your idea
- Take Time to Prepare – Consider who you are trying to influence and prepare your pitch to meet the needs of the audience
- Be ready for resistance – Think about what objections people may have towards your proposal. Once you have them, add this information to your proposal to reduce the resistance people will have.
If you wish to find out more about influencing, explore the what is influencing question further and develop your own influencing skills, you may find a negotiation and influencing skills training course will help. Take a look at Negotiation and Influencing Skills Training from our training partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd.