“These conversation are driving me nuts: we ‘ve got major business opportunities in France and Turkey and no-there to to get it going. I speak Spanish, Turkish and French but my boss only wants to send me to Spanish speaking countries,” remarked Liz.
“What’s his reasoning?” I enquire.
“Wants me to concentrate on Spain. That’s as much as I get from him. I wouldn’t care, but all the other projects are now being managed by someone else. It’s just so frustrating. Boring, in fact. There’s no sense in it.”
So how can Liz break through such resistance?
This resistance can be grouped into three levels:
Level 1 – Based on Lack of Information
This is low-grade resistance where there is no hidden agenda. People are opposed to the idea for any number of reasons: lack of information, disagreement with the idea itself, lack of exposure, or confusion.What this could mean for Liz: Maybe Liz’s boss doesn’t have enough information about the opportunities in these other countries.
Level 2 – Based on personality and vested interests
Level 2 is an emotional reaction to the change. Even given the right information, vested interests or dislike can be difficult to shift.
What this could mean for Liz: does the boss feel that Liz’s progression could undermine him? Does he just dislike her and would rather give the opportunity to someone else?
Level 3 – Based on Environmental issues
This level concerns external factors such as the economy, the company structure, process, climate.
What this could mean for Liz: the economy doesn’t bode well for development in certain areas.
None of these levels are insurmountable. Not even Level 2, where there’s a personality clash. There are four channels of influence that work independently or in combinations. These channels are:
1. Direct Influence:
You have direct contact with the person you’re influencing
What to be aware of: how assertive you have to be will depend on the characters and contexts involved. Body language, facial expression, intonation and verbal language will have an impact on how your message is received.
2. Indirect Influence:
Here, the influence is through someone else.
What to be aware of: who has the ear and trust of the person you’re influencing? Can you trust them? You don’t want your messages twisted by anyone else.
3. Syndicated Influence:
This is similar to Indirect Influence, except you have different people/groups affecting the decisions.
Ensure they’re all giving the same message, even if it’s in different ways.
4. Collaborative Influence:
You team up with others to get the message from different angles.
Again, trust is an issue here. You want to make sure the person with whom you’re collaborating is genuinely supportive of your message. If they’ve a different approach from you, that could well work in your favour: the different packaging of the point could cause the penny to drop.
5. Remote Influence:
You need do nothing. The situation changes because of external factors that impact on the actions of others.
The proof of the pudding is in the…seeing. When environmental changes become obvious, you need say nothing. The press, the demise or rise of a project, the fact that a product is flying off the shelves are all tools for influence.
Don’t expect influence to be an axe through the wall though: it could happen in a minute or over days, weeks, months or years (political movements being an example, or getting someone to make up their mind…)
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