I recently read an article which referenced Nelson Mandela as one of the best negotiators in history. It got me thinking about the importance of understanding your own influencing style and being able to adapt it to different business situations.
If you can effectively motivate others and get people on board with your ideas, your business will operate more efficiently and the fact that everyone is working together will boost team morale.
However, “influencing” is definitely not a one-size-fits-all art. Every person is different, every situation is different, so you’re going to need to bring the right influencing approach to each new scenario.
For example, a more forceful style might be appropriate when negotiating a business deal or when an immediate response is required in an emergency, but it’s usually not be the best technique for building long-term relationships.
Using charm to win people over is another well-used and successful influencing style; however, without sincerity and follow-through the effects may not last beyond the first conversation!
Each of the following five categories of key influencing styles has benefits and drawbacks. The best way to improve your ability to influence is to identify which category you naturally fall in to. Doing so will allow you to consider the positives and negatives of your particular approach, and in what ways, and situations, you need to adjust it or draw on a different technique.
This style demands attention, and this type of influencer pulls no punches in getting their message across. It’s a strong way of communicating what you want, but it’s worth remembering that the to-the-point tone might be off-putting for some people and in some situations.
Using facts, logic and experience, this style is about rational persuasion. People who use it are often said to have the “gift of the gab”. It’s a good style to draw on to combat highly emotional situations. But logic has its limits, and sometimes a more personal approach is more effective than facts and figures.
Give a little, get a little. This style suits a situation where the influencer is ready to make a trade-off. This one is required by every business owner on a perpetual basis so it’s worth practicing – and being aware of the potential to give away more than you intend. Need some inspiration? Harvard Law professor Robert H. Mnookin says the late Nelson Mandela is one of the best negotiators in history.
This involves using other people to create connections for you and is particularly helpful for building relationships to reach long-term goals. In short, you could say this is networking. It’s very effective, but less so if an immediate or short-term result is needed.
Encouraging and creating a team environment where everyone has a vested interest in an outcome is the main feature of this influencing style. Obviously, this skill is hugely beneficial – as long as you don’t hold back on expressing your own opinions in order to get and keep people on side.
Chris Niarchos is a lifelong entrepreneur and founder of The Cobra Group of Companies, which specialises in incubating, developing and managing a portfolio of start-up enterprises and successful companies.