PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Influencing Skills David Wright, UKLA Director General

In any negotiation, business meeting or customer presentation the ability to influence is key. This does not mean always getting your own way, but it does mean being able to convey your message, thought, proposal or idea in a clear and convincing way. And gaining acceptance of your thought or idea with the other party.

What is influence? Influence is the ability to form a change in the other party’s actions, activities or behaviour, through the expression or conveyance of a thought, idea or proposal which leads to a defined outcome.

Most influence should have a definitive outcome that is tangible, and can be demonstrated and even measured.

Influencing is nothing new but influencing styles have changed since the early last century’s command and control management style (I will tell you what to do, and you just do it) to today’s more collaborative business environment (do you think this is the best way?).

In any influence a number of factors need to be in place for an individual to be influential in a given situation.

Credibility – the individual needs to have the correct authority for the receiver to believe what is being said. This could be by virtue of their background, experience or academic qualifications, or even their position in a certain company.

Information – the influencer needs to have the right information at hand to be able to influence. This could be technical (such as product performance), organisational (relating to the ability to deliver on promises), or market-based (this is where the sector is moving and this is what others are doing).

Empathy – to know what needs to be said before you say it is a key skill. This could come from dealing with an individual, a group or a situation previously and


understanding how people have reacted to the same or similar messages before. Or it could come from an insight in putting you in the place of the other person or people, understanding their needs and motivations and what key messages could appeal to them.

Reinforcement – people need supporting through a period of influence which most often means changing something, stopping some action or activity and starting something else. This could be regarding changes at work or even changes of supplier from your prospective customers. Assurance, reiterating key messages and empathy will all help with reinforcement.

Shared understanding - this is needed to validate information, check knowledge and ensure that any conclusion or negotiation is built on firm foundations otherwise the conclusion to the situation might not be agreed between all parties.

Communication – being able to convey the information in a compelling manner and link disparate pieces of information into a cohesive whole. Adjusting your communication style to suit different audiences, using different types of language perhaps more technical with a technical audience and less techncial with others.

Today more people work collaboratively across an organisation, operating within a matrix structure rather than just a functional line. They might have two managers, one for ‘pay and rations’ and one for project or task-based activity. Over the years the ability to influence has become increasingly important and will remain so long into the future.

On the 12th October, UKLA will be holding an Influencing with Integrity Masterclass.

LINK integrity-masterclass/

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