Almost every day at work, I find myself in a situation where I need to persuade someone to do something and most of the times, this someone wouldn't even report to me.
As you can imagine, this is extremely difficult to do because others have their own jobs and priorities and trying to impose yours on them isn't as simple.
I've found that to make someone to agree to a proposal (a pitch for an executive yes or a request to someone to do pieces of work) you need to rely on one particular weapon - influence.
Becoming influential, though, is a lengthy process that in my opinion revolves around building relationships with people and growing your own reputation.
But sometimes, even if you are the most influential person in the company, you'll inevitably get pushback.
Ideally, you should be prepared for such an outcome in advance. A helpful strategy I've used in such tricky situations is analysing and planning with Cialdini's six principles of persuasion.
Let's take a quick look at the six principles and some of my personal examples there.
- Tactic: Reciprocity as the obligation to give back what you have received from others
- What has worked for me here: I always schedule time to get to know someone I haven't worked with before and try to answer as many of their questions as possible, i.g. give them my knowledge. Only at another occasion do I ask for help as I've already given mine the time we met before.
- Tactic: Scarcity when people want more of those things there are less of
- What has worked for me here: FOMO or fear of missing out works great when you have an important announcement to make but you are only teasing it rather than stating to ensure that people actually make the necessary meeting or read the update you're sending.
- Tactic: Authority when people follow the lead of credible and knowledgeable experts
- What has worked for me here: I've purposefully spent a lot of time building my own profile and reputation through publishing thought leadership pieces on our internal Wiki comms space or other updates as well as positioning myself as someone with institutional knowledge on two key topics (notice the focus of just two). This way, people now come to me for input and it's easier when I go to people to influence them as they trust my knowledge.
- Tactic: Consistency that is activated by looking for and asking for small initial commitments that can be made
- What has worked for me here: Whenever I've had a big ask or a big pitch to make for a major change, I've always presented it as the end goal for which I would run a pilot or an experiment first to prove the concept before asking for the larger investment that will make the end goal happen.
- Tactic: Liking when people prefer to say yes to those they like.
- What has worked for me here: This goes back to the first tip I shared where I spend a lot of time just getting to know a person through scheduling time to meet them over coffee or lunch or a zoom chat and asking them questions about themselves and what they're really like as well as then sharing the same about me.
- Tactic: Consensus when people will look to the actions of others to determine their own
- What has worked for me here: Using examples of other departments, leaders or individual contributors similar to the those of the person I'm talking to at the moment and sharing successes or case studies to get people thinking, especially using data.
Take a look at the infographic below for more explanations and examples on the six principles to think about how you can put them to practice so that you can influence and persuade.
How To Influence & Persuade [Infographic]
How do you persuade and influence?