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Influencing Final Thoughts [Week 5 of our 5-week series!]

Posted by on September 12, 2011

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Last week, we talked about Influencing by Email. Now, in our 5th and final week of Influencing When Not Face-to-Face, I’d like to share my Final Thoughts to help you make the most of your new skills!

Influencing When Not Face to Face resized 600You know you can influence others without being in a face-to-face meeting with them. Many books, films, songs, pictures are described as influential. However, if you are looking to positively influence a specific individual you should tailor your message and your medium to them.

Once you have a definite influence objective in mind, and are clear about who you need to influence to achieve this, it’s worth asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is the message I want to convey?
  • How important will the non-verbal component of my message be?
  • Do I need to see/hear the other person’s reaction to what I have to say?
  • Do I need to find out their position or ask them any questions?
  • How urgent is the situation?
  • Does anyone else need to be involved?

If Using “Push” Energy from the Positive Power and Influence model:

  • Be careful of using “strong” words, such as “You must…” and “You should…” as they may seem aggressive
  • Adding qualifiers may make the message confusing, e.g. “Hopefully, you can…”
  • Using bold or CAPITAL letters can seem like you are shouting!
  • Be precise and concise – people often make up their mind after reading just a few lines
  • Be clear and specific about your objective
  • If the topic is highly emotional for you and/or the other person(s), don’t use email as a way of communicating

If Using “Pull” Energy:

  • Be careful of using openness – too much disclosure may be inappropriate
  • If asking questions (Exploring), use open questions and be clear if you require a response and by when
  • If interpreting something someone else has said or sent in a previous email, then be sure to reflect back accurately
  • Don’t assume common ground, but use data to support your assumptions of where you have agreement

General Points:

  • Don’t use email if the topic is something potentially contentious or difficult. Not only is email correspondence admissible in court as evidence, or able to be used as an audit trail, but a single email can be forwarded to thousands of people within hours or even minutes!
  • Think about how healthy your relationship is with the person(s) concerned and therefore how strongly you can push/pull via email
  • Unlike face-to-face communication, you cannot control the timing of when an email is read, so you may inadvertently try to influence someone at a bad time
  • General etiquette: Do not copy in all and sundry to “cover your back” or look busy/important. Only involve those people for whom it is essential.
  • If in doubt, try to communicate face-to-face so that you can use the “music” (your words) and “dance” (your body language) to support your influence. At the very least, try telephone or teleconference as two-way, “live” communication is always better for influence and relationship-building!

Finally, if it’s important to build and maintain a long term relationship with the other person then at some stage you’ll do best to meet them face-to-face. Once you have a trusting relationship based upon mutual respect, your influence is much more likely to be effective, whatever medium you use!

Angela Steatham is an expert trainer for CGWA. Based in the U.K., she delivers the Positive Power and Influence program throughout Europe.

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