Being right is not enough. In this uncertain world we are living in, our ability to influence others has quickly become one of the most indispensable skills in the workplace. In this masterclass ‘Strategic Influence in the New World’, our speaker Owen Fitzpatrick shared the most important elements of strategic influence and persuasion.
We learned how to position ourselves as believable and credible, how to understand the other person more effectively and how to apply storytelling to influence other people.
Owen also shared how to excel at the art of leadership influence, influence ethically, strategically without authority and how to master the use of words that change minds.
Below is a summary of 14 lessons Owen shared with us during the session.
1. The VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous)
The new world has been often described as the VUCA world – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. The world has changed significantly and there are also a lot of opportunities in this new fast paced world. We need more than ever to master the art of successful influence. Also to be successful, it is critical to take big ideas and concepts and break them down into specific actions.
2. Polarisation of Society
There has been an increase in the polarisation of society, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, being right in this world is not enough. The best-communicated product or service wins. Influence is essential to surviving and thriving in today’s world. Those with influence in today’s world are going to be most successful.
3. Critical Skills for the Future
These are the critical skills for the future and ones that you won’t be able to outsource to computers – Strategic Thinking, Critical Thinking, Adaptability and the distinctively human attributes – Communicating with Clarity and Impact, Influence Skills and Relationship Building.
4. How Influence Works?
In the old hunter-gatherer days, power was key, and relationships and trust were vital to survive as human beings. The importance of working with others, demonstrating expertise and building relationships is woven into our DNA. This is vital if we are to thrive and trust each other. The resources of influence are power, relationships, teamwork, trust and expertise.
5. The Neuroscience of Yes
The brain resists change and is an efficient, pattern making machine. It creates patterns and looks for shortcuts to figure things out. To understand influence, it is good to understand the associations we make. For you to influence others, you need to make certain associations in your customer’s brain. When they think of you and your products, they will have positive associations.
Trusting and empathising someone releases the chemical oxytocin which affects their neurochemistry. Dopamine, another chemical is the heart of motivation. It’s the want chemical, it’s about creating a desire.
When influencing someone, you want to stimulate the release of dopamine. One of the things that affect our brains is novelty and danger. Therefore, to survive, we need novelty and danger. Novelty and danger get attention in marketing and advertising.
7. Structure of Influence
You need to pay attention to the Source (you as an influencer), Audience (knowing what’s most important about where the audience is), the Message and the Medium (how you communicate with them in that moment in time) when engaging in influence attempts.
INFLUENCE = RESOURCES
8. Source of Influence
These four qualities are key to be an influential person – Confidence, Expertise, Trustworthiness and Authenticity. Emotional contagion is an important concept here – it helps us influence others. For example, we are influenced by the level of confidence others have.
When we are uncertain, we look for someone confident who knows what is going on. For each of these qualities, think about how you can demonstrate and position yourself as having these qualities? The greatest gift you can give another person is to be yourself.
9. The Audience
You need to consider the following to successfully influence them: What motivates them? We are motivated by pleasure and pain. What are the things they need to move towards and away from? What does their ideal future look like?
You want to know the negatives and the positives – the drives that motivate people. Before you go into an influencing attempt, ask yourself, what do they believe and what do they feel? About 3 things: you, themselves and the message you are communicating.
10. The Medium
- Virtual vs Real World – voice tone is critical in the virtual world, you need to ask more questions and bring them in more and make the most of whatever your circumstances are. Think about your introduction and your backdrop.
- Spoken vs Written – be aware of the tone of voice when speaking and be careful of capitals when writing. It is not only about the information; it is about how you make others feel.
- Internal vs External – what do you want people to know? Consistently communicate internally and connect back to values and the mission. Externally, what do you want customers to think about you, feel about you, thoughts you want them to think.
- Long vs Short – we need to have the ability to communicate our message succinctly and concisely. Practice making them as short as possible. Be ready to adapt to different timeframes and master the art of communicating in all.
11. The Message
The key elements are Logic, Emotion, Stories and Language.
- Logic – people believe clear messages more than anything else. You need to provide evidence to back up what you are saying.
- Emotion – you need to have emotion in your message to impact how people feel. These three things will help:
a. You need to go into the state that you want them to go into.
b. Storytelling is critical. Stories tend to create logical and emotional impact to persuade people.
c. Questions are also useful here. The question triggers you to have certain thoughts and direct our brains.
12. The Power of Stories
Share a story that your audience can relate to, you want them to think the person in that story is just like them. The protagonist in the story should have a desire and there needs to be conflict in the story. You need to include the solution and the problem in the story. Think of case studies of people you have worked with to share.
Here are three important words that matter when persuading people:
- Because – when you use this word, you make whatever comes before ‘because’ reasonable. It does have persuasive power.
- Now – this creates urgency. It makes us feel like we need to take action now.
- You – using this word makes things relevant.
14. The 7 Principles of Influence (Cialdini’s Principle)
Cialdini’s 7 principles for effective influence are:
- Social proof
Unity is the 7th principle added by Cialdini. Unity means, because we are in the same group or are working with someone, we are more likely to be influenced by them. We need to make our customers feel like one of us, that we are on the same team.
DURING OUR Q&A’S, SOME GREAT POINTS WERE DISCUSSED:
Influence vs Manipulation – Intention and Deception
Recognise we are always influencing people, even if you don’t talk. Influence is where you are helping the other person to get what they want and simultaneously, as a result, getting what you want. Start from what the other person wants. Then, know what you want and connect the dots. That way, you are focused on how you are helping the other person as opposed to getting what you want solely.
Influencing in the current situation
You don’t always have to be in person. If you’re a storyteller, you can share it across Zoom or Skype and get a great impact. Instead of doing what we do in person with the same things, figure out the best way we can leverage whatever skillsets we do have. Lead by example – the way you show up on a call, your energy, the way you are dressed etc – you want to showcase this is how we show up in the company.
Stay clear and on point
Think of a potential customer speaking triangles around you as a political debate. You have all of this back and forth and arguments. In many cases, it’s whoever is clearest that wins. Don’t allow it to ruffle you. Their win is confusing you. Stay clear and composed all the way through when you present and remain patient. This makes you come across more confident as well.
Who influenced me?
I’ve been influenced by a lot of books I’ve read, I’ve had a wonderful mentor, I’ve had friends and teachers influence me. My parents would be a huge influence, in particular my dad. I look up to him and always listen to him and he is an inspiration in many ways to me. He is such a good human being and he has always been my hero. If I could be a quarter of the person he is, I’d be doing very well.
From an influence point of view, what are you going to start doing, stop doing, do more and do less of?