What are the benefits of influence?

- Increase your ability to shape someone’s behavior when you do not have direct control of them. - Gather better data while building ongoing relationships in sales, consulting, and in any business environment. - Motivate others when involved in projects with virtual teams in remote locations. - Exert leadership that transcends organizational boundaries. Even when you have direct authority, command and control behavior does not produce real buy-in. Influence is shaping someone else’s behavior without resorting to positional power. Real buy-in is achieved when others participate in the process of making decisions. The true meaning of dialogue is aptly captured succinctly by the title of William Isaacs seminal book, Dialogue: The Art Of Thinking Together. Some approach customers and clients by telling them about the superiority of their product, countering customers’ “objections,” then “closing” the transaction. Influence is more subtle. In complex transactions, involving experienced parties on both sides, a more sophisticated approach is called for. Consider the following “stages of influence.” Conflict and Resolution Business associates open to you as you square off and face them directly. A sense of all things possible develops as you learn to focus your attention even more intensely on someone else. Trust is earned as others feel heard. Rapport is built as you demonstrate understanding of others needs and desires. Influence is increased as your empathic paraphrasing leaves others feeling profoundly understood. Inquiry expands the field of possibilities and begins the process of dialogue. Pathways of influence materialize as your understanding of others’ mental maps grows. Conflagrations are diffused as the assumptions that underlie them are surfaced. Long-term business relationships are formed as your influence expands. To influence another, they must trust you. We tend to trust people with whom we feel connected. Create a sense of shared experience with your colleagues and customers. Active Listening Accurately receiving the message of others is the hardest part of the communication process. We tend to focus on: - What we want to say, and - What we expect others “will say.” Our expectations are often so strong that they interfere with hearing what is

actually said. No part of the communication process increases your influence further than listening to others in a way that leaves them feeling heard.

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