Choose your words carefully, as the choices you make have the power to ignite an inferno or damper a flame.
Employee #1 “YOU WERE SUPPOSE TO DO [insert task here]!” “I SENT YOU AN EMAIL TO DO IT. DIDN’T YOU READ MY EMAIL?”
Employee #2. “I DON’T HAVE TO DO WHAT YOU SAY; YOU ARE NOT MY MANGER AND I DON’T HAVE TO ANSWER TO YOU!”
The two employees’ argument echoed through the building. Employee #2 stormed outside to collect her thoughts, get some fresh air and calm down. Later she came back inside and apologized for raising her voice and the comments she made and why. In turn, the Employee #1 did the same and thus the issue was resolved and today I can honestly say, Employee #2 still adores and respects Employee #1 and still feels terrible for losing her cool and yelling back. She even wishes she…
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.
If feedback makes you uncomfortable both giving and getting, you’re not alone. I dread every performance appraisal even when I am confident it will be positive. It’s just so personal. Then I found an article on ProjectsAtWork.com that offered a refreshing perspective in the form of 9 great tips. If you are studying business management, this may help:
Approach the conversation with curiosity about the other person’s point of view.
Set the stage as partners in the conversation by gaining consensus on the purpose and mode of communication.
Avoid the long-standing assumption that negative feedback is easier to swallow when sandwiched (positive/negative/positive). Ask the recipient how they would like to receive it.
State your concern and ask for their point of view – don’t make people guess.
Ask how you may have contributed to the issues.
React to defensiveness with curiosity about how they’re feeling.
Do not use anonymous feedback – the reaction is sure to be defensiveness.
Honor a statute of limitations – waiting too long erodes the value.
Solicit feedback on your ability to give feedback.
Number 7 is my personal favorite. In my opinion, being told that someone said something, but their identity cannot be revealed, is frustrating and of no value.
These pointers are useful for situations outside the workplace too. What works for you?