Category Archives: influence

Innovation: Why We Need to Connect with Each Other

Click on this post to view a short fun video that shows us that the connected mind is where good ideas come from.

Who Wins? Influencing for Mutual Benefit

It could have happened to anyone. I was on a rare visit to a mega shopping mall to exchange a Christmas gift. There in the middle of the shoppers, displays, and kiosks, I had a moment of uncertainty about where to find my destination.  Immediately I was approached by a young woman from a kiosk. She asked me a question and I didn’t catch what she was saying at first, so I turned to hear her.
By that time, we were discussing whether I knew about collagen and she was offering me free samples. Enough rapport had been created for me to come over to her booth and sit while she applied lotion to one side of my face!
Both she and her manager then exerted some fine influencing skills with the goal of making a sale. At first, it was a sale of several hundred dollars worth of products that would last me a year. The deal was actually not outrageous at all. By the time I left, I was being offered a $59 deal, due to my very good fortune of being there when the manager just happened to stop by.

I was on my way to a particular store with one errand in mind, and a desire to get home soon. The fact that I even considered the purchase is a testament to their selling skills.
Applying a SYNTAX Influence filter, I observe that they definitely know their goal. They also adjust it based on their assessment of the situation. We move from a full line of products to “which one do you like the best?” The attractive young woman built rapport, first enough to draw me in, then enough to discuss where she is from, my own family background, our ages and skin, and how wonderful the product is.
I accepted the offer of having the stuff put on me (though I would have been happier if they did both sides of my face!). They did their best to lead me to the next goal. I made the counteroffer that I would take their contact information and think about it. Because I was clear on my goals, I could engage with them and still decline their offer.
I laughed when someone else working for the same company approached me at the next corner. I told her I already had the product on one side of my face. She began to use several of the closing strategies they had used–how lucky I was that she could make an exception for me and give me the best price.
She didn’t have much hope of building the rapport this time, as I was no longer in a moment of unclear destination and I already knew the scoop. She did help me locate the store I wanted to find. I received the benefit I needed and was soon enough on my way home.
Was there anything they could have done to get me to their outcome? Maybe not. That’s the benefit of keeping my goals in mind.
Did they achieve part of their goal? Yes, I am attracted to their products and might actually plan to purchase one item from them in the future. I will have had time for my own decision strategy to work. I don’t usually decide on an unplanned purchase without sleeping on it. For sure, I know more about their product than I did before.
At another time or context, if I were less grounded, unclear on my goal or if I didn’t feel as free to decline the offer, the outcome might have been different. 
To be truly masterful in a relationship-based sale, they would have detected my decision strategy and worked with it; as it was, they were in a transactional sale where they either ring the cash register or they don’t. 
If they interact with enough people, I imagine they make enough sales to do well. Retail is tough, especially out in the mall corridor. I speculate that this particular group, from a culture where bargaining is much more direct than in most of the US, has much more freedom and range to use selling skills than, say, a midwestern US native. 
When we are influencing others, our flexibility is a big factor in who wins, i.e. whether we get the outcome we are after.  Short term, the most flexibility wins the day.  I believe that to be truly influential you have to take the other person’s outcome into account. In longer term relationships, nobody wins if both don’t win.
The best influencing skills are those that find a way for all parties’ needs to be met. If it weren’t for my moment of disorientation in the mall, I wouldn’t have engaged with the sellers in the first place.
When I choose to enter a conversation or negotiation, it is in part because of a desire for mutual benefit. 
My interaction with the skincare ladies was mutually beneficial – it went just as far as it served both of us. I had fun and I hope they did too!

How to (Almost) Read Minds: Teleseminar replay

How valuable would it be to know how to tailor your communication so it makes the most sense to the other person? 
To be persuasive to them?

How to (Almost) Read Minds
with Lucy Freedman
Join me for a 45-minute tour of your sphere of influence. Learn how to tune in to what is important to your customers, co-workers, anyone you want to influence to get things done. 

Email for the link to the replay.

Ethics of Influence

Last week I was invited to be the guest on Hollis Polk’s internet radio show, “Your Life, Your Relationships.” As I prepared to talk about increasing our influence in personal life, I realized that the use of power in personal relationships is a deep and complex subject.

Influencing at Work
Usually, when teaching or coaching in a corporate or government setting, I  encourage each person to be as influential as possible. Assuming that your intentions are at least somewhat on behalf of the organization and its customers, you want to be as influential as you can in carrying out your role.
In large systems, getting anything done relies on influencing skills combined with position power, intelligence, and leadership. One of my favorite things about influencing skills is that anyone can use them and be powerful.
Influencing in Personal Relationships
Influence also happens in relationships with family and friends. In personal life, the question of who gets his or her way is different from what happens at work.  Where there are children or elders, the capacity of the participants is unequal. The nature of the family unit or community is that it exists for its own sake, not simply to accomplish external goals.

Within that context, there may be greater felt constraints on how we influence, as well as an overriding need for harmony.
The idea that we would consciously attempt to influence our family and friends might seem foreign, and even unethical. as if we were scheming against them. The idea that we would not be attempting to influence them is pretty far out also.
Of course we have influence within our close relationships. It may not work as well as we would like, and we might not admit it. Whether we like it or not, we influence just bybeing there. We can’t not influence each other, so let’s be conscious of how we do it. 
Are You Playing Games?
Whoever has the communication skills to influence others is going to get his or her way more of the time than someone who doesn’t. This can be aboveboard or it can be more devious.
In transactional analysis, maneuvers that discount someone or something are called “games,” and are basically unethical ways to influence. Typically, they don’t even accomplish the intended goal for the person who initiates them.

Ethical Influencing
Consider these three qualities that can make our influence more ethical – i.e., not scheming against our closest relations.
1. Concern for the good of all.
If it’s genuine, then any outcome we have for ourselves will take others’ needs into account. 
2. Respect for each person’s own version of reality and appropriate stage of development.
Even if my plan seems better for someone else than theirs, they get to decide for themselves. This, of course, has to be modified when the person is four years old or sometimes when he or she is incapacitated.
In general, people can be allowed to decide more for themselves than their close relations may want them to. Beware of power games that interfere with respecting the other person’s point of view. When in doubt, consult with someone who is not a party to the issue.  
3. Transparency.
If we withhold relevant information, or are not willing to say what our intention is, or try to get someone else to do our dirty work for us, we are setting up a negative payoff either sooner or later. It’s a good self-test–would I be willing to share my thinking with the person I am trying to influence? If not, I may be up to something that I’ve rationalized to myself which is really underhanded.
If these three principles are honored, the rest is up to skill.
Are you good at conveying what you want so that others can hear and be motivated to support you?
Are you able to say no diplomatically and hear it with grace?
Have you invested enough in others’ emotional bank accounts that they are willing to invest in yours?
As you step forward in 2012, make your family and friendships a source of cooperation and joy in your life by exerting your influence with ethics.

Being Influential

Do you have good ideas? Are you sometimes frustrated when they go nowhere? What do you do when you run up against resistance or just can’t seem to get a response?

For problems to get solved, for innovation to occur, for collaboration to grow out of conflict; new ideas and solutions are needed.
And yet, it may be difficult to dislodge the status quo or even get a hearing for a new idea. Organizational decision-making can be complex or unclear. A lack of confidence in yourself, your ideas, or your standing may hold you back.

Alternatively, when you do succeed in making a difference, you feel good, and valued, and that your work is worthwhile. Things may not be perfect where you work but they are moving in a good direction. Influence is a motivator.

Being influential is not merely a result of position power. Influence is a set of skills that can be learned and that need to be honed as you grow in your career. SYNTAX is the result of modeling and distilling the crucial ways of acting and being that create influence. It exists to help people with good ideas get them across and acted upon.

Take something that you would like to have happen in your workplace, an idea you would like considered, a solution you can offer. What are the first thoughts that come to mind? Here are the seeds of your own personal syntax, the kernel of how you organize for influence. Starting from there, SYNTAX helps you bring your contribution to others so that they can get on board, make decisions, and take action.

As a launch pad, answer these questions about your idea.

What do I want to happen?

What will that get me / you / us?

How will we know – what specific evidence will tell us – when this is done?

Outstanding influencers can answer these questions for themselves and for the people they want to reach. Knowing everyone’s intention, motivation, and evidence creates the needed focus for forward motion. This comes from Plan, one of the five SYNTAX skill sets.

When you can answer these three questions for any idea you want to bring forward, your influence is guaranteed to increase. Your ability to influence increases exponentially when you add in the other four skill sets. Your personal syntax becomes supercharged for influence.

We’re here to provide tools and guidance for you to create your unique roadmap with your own personal syntax as a starting point. That’s the purpose of the Messenger, and the purpose of SYNTAX courses, coaching, and consulting.
Join the influential people who have found out how much more of a difference they can make when they put SYNTAX to work for them. And today, enjoy the benefit of asking yourself “the three questions” for something you care about.