Years ago, at a meeting of parents fighting for the local school budget, I saw one parent wearing a T-shirt that said, “If you think education is expensive, you should try ignorance.” I thought of that while listening to the president’s plan for zero-cost community college. An educated society is in everyone’s interest, not just parents and students.
I remember an incident on a new job when I successfully swayed someone who was on the fence about an important decision. Not being aware that my manager was all ears, I was surprised when she approached me after the call and said, “You have good influential skills.” I suppose it came naturally to me because until then, I didn’t even realize this was a skill. However, once aware, I built on it and and now consider it a valuable proficiency.
An article on Inc.com offers ten tips for influencing people. I would add one more that partners with an essential communication skill: adapting to someone else’s style. People are not typically influenced by someone they don’t like and we tend to dislike those whose communication styles are very dissimilar.
If you’re talking to someone with a calm demeanor, tone down the volume and adopt a soothing inflection. If your listener is outgoing and personable, show your personal, friendly side. Depending on the person’s professionalism, language level, state of mind, etc., adjust your language, tone of voice and animation to bring yourself into their comfort zone. Stay focused and organized to influence someone who is detailed and cautious. Avoid too much detail with someone who is overwhelmed and hurried. Likability is key whether you’re selling, servicing or soothing. This skill also applies to interviewing, on both sides of the table.
The ability to influence is not restricted to politicians. Almost every field requires this skill; sales, customer service, law and politics, to name a few. And remember, if executed correctly, not only will you win over the person on the phone, but you may earn accolades from your manager who is listening.