Influencing is one of the top skills that every change practitioner needs. The ability to have an effect in indirect or intangible ways, especially when you are in a position that doesn't command authority in the organisation, can be difference between success and failure in your change activities.
But is the ability to influence an innate quality? A personality trait? Or is it a skill you can learn?
I believe that some practitioners inherently know how to influence those around them, they carry within them an ability to motivate action seemingly without effort.
The good news is though that the techniques and tactics employed by these successful folks can be understood and, most importantly, learned and used by every change practitioner!
So what kind of techniques can help you influence for change?
Here's a couple of top techniques that highly influential change practitioners use to achieve high impacts in their programs:
This is a structured process – so it’s great if you’re just starting out in change (but equally useful if you are experienced and want to up your game!)
And it's useful for influencing people at all different stages of readiness!
Non-judgmental, non-confrontation and non-adversarial.
By sharing your understanding of person’s perspective, and then exploring the discrepancies between the current and future state you help develop the person’s appreciation for the value of change.
The human mind is geared to assemble pieces of information and experience into a story, in a bid to understand and remember. Using this basic piece of cognitive psychology, create compelling stories about yourself, your change and the business in general.
Storytelling is a dynamic process – the listener is just as involved as the storyteller
Stories evoke emotion – and substantial evidence has suggested that emotional events are remembered more clearly, accurately and for longer periods of time than neutral events.
Leveraging Social Proof
In uncertain situations, people often look to those around them and assume they have more knowledge about what the correct course of action will be.
Using this knowledge, you can think like a marketer and influence for change using a number of types of social proof.
Do you have an expert in the type of change that you are trying to implement?
How about current users of the change product you are looking to introduce?
Or perhaps you could look to the wisdom of the crowd to influence resistors in your business? Or the wisdom of friends?
And certification is another great way to build credibility and influence your people.
Using the Power of Surroundings
Are you underestimating the influence of space, light, order and chaos?
Studies show that creative problem solving is better completed is room with a high ceiling rather than a low one, and groups that work in circular arrangements tend to solve problems for their own circle rather than the group as a whole.
Are you considering the space when you set the intentions and how this will influence your change activities?
How is your change space arranged? Consider the Broken Windows Theory – where squalor leads to more squalor and disorder can result in antisocial behaviour, how are surroundings impacting your ability to influence?
Change is substance not style? Right? WRONG!!
Beautiful things make us curious, draw us in and cause us to engage. If your change work looks unappealing and feels mundane, then your influence will be lost as people pass by without noticing at all.
Presentation affects behaviour - from the colours you use to the pictures and font, these things will have influence.
And remember the principles of reciprocity and equity theory – people naturally want to give back when they receive something.
Don’t let your work on influencing end here!
Talk more with our team about how to become a more daring change leader, or learn how to design change that considers real people.