Does your work entail many conversations with colleagues and clients? Than you will probably experience moments where you have to convince others of your plans or when others try to convince you of theirs. For example during negotiations to close a deal. Persuading others can be challenging, especially when your interests don’t align. But luckily, persuading others is a skill that you can improve with practice. With the right technique you can increase the influence you have on others in a relaxed and natural way.
Some people have negative associations with influencing others. A pushy salesperson that imposes on others is the first thing that comes to mind when they think of influencing others. But there are many ways to influence others that don’t concern manipulation or withholding information. You can influence others in a positive way by creating support for your goals or ideas.
Research shows that there are two basic strategies to influence others in a conversation: push & pull. Most people have a natural tendency to use either of these techniques, but both can be equally effective, depending on the situation. Here are some pointers to help you decide which strategy you should use.
Push: encourage & convince
The idea behind the push strategy is that you can convince others with well thought out propositions and arguments. You mostly give information, make propositions, reinforce hoped-for behaviour and actively take the lead in the conversation. You use sentences like: ‘If I was in your position..’, ‘Don’t forget to include…’, ‘Given these facts…’.
You can use this strategy to eliminate doubt and help others to make a decision.
The push strategy is most effective when:
- The other has less knowledge on the subject than you
- The other is open to your opinion
- The other trusts your experience/status/motives
- You need a fast decision
Pull: explore & inspire
The pull strategy is quite the opposite of the push strategy. It’s all about asking for information and opinions, building on ideas and aligning to the needs of your conversation partner. You put the relationship and collaboration first and include and recognize the other in the conversation. You actively investigate and explore the interests and goals of the other. You do this by using sentences such as: ‘How do you think we should deal with this?’, ‘What do you think is most important?’ and ‘Do you agree with me on …?’.
The pull strategy is most effective when:
- The other has a strong vision or opinion
- The other finds it difficult to accept new ideas
- You don’t have much experience or knowledge on the topic
- You want to build a successful relationship
- The other is upset or tense
Switching between these two strategies, dependent on the situation and reaction of your conversationpartner, will increase your influence in conversations. But don’t forget to always aim for win-win outcomes and building successful long-term relationship with others.