Influencing and Persuading – Art or Skill?

Imagine that you were suddenly invited to attend a one hour meeting with a very important stakeholder who has the power to effect great positive change for you and the organization you represent. Suppose that you had requested the meeting on a number of occasions and have been turned down because of the said individual’s lack of availability. Let us assume that on this occasion you have been invited to attend the meeting at his/her office on a specific date at a specific time. Very few of us would simply wake up on that morning and arrive at the meeting without having given considerable thought to how we would present ourselves and our issue. As the old anti-dandruff commercial proclaimed:

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

The question is therefore raised:

Is the ability to influence an art or a skill? Can influence and the skills of influencing be taught? Or are they aptitudes, like leadership qualities, that the average individual either has or does not have?

As someone who has coached and trained over 35,000 leaders and managers across the globe, I have come to the very studied conclusion that not only can influencing skills be taught, but that they need to be taught as a matter of organizational survival. What is more, gaining proficiency in persuading and influencing others can also enhance and improve one’s day to day relationships with bosses, colleagues, staff and customers, not to mention our relationships with those outside of work.

21st Century organizations have become diverse, organic and non-hierarchical hubs where individuals connect in different ways across time zones and geographic boundaries. Whilst this makes them exciting, dynamic places to work, it also makes them more complex. With the complexity comes the challenge of influencing with the accompanying potential for frustration and conflict.

There are four clear components to learning how to become an effective influencer:

1. Self/Other Awareness; this helps us to differentiate between the different behavioural styles, mindsets, motivational drivers and leadership profiles of those we need to influence

2. Preparing and working with communication strategies that help us to influence different types of people based on proven methodology (one size does not fit all)

3. Sharpening our interpersonal skills to build confidence especially when tackling more difficult challenges

4. Practising and repeating the skills and techniques on a regular basis until they become embedded in our day to day behaviour and allow us to attain a state of “unconscious competence”

In this regard, the PPIS programme has been specifically devised to effectively deliver these components in a dynamic workshop. All of us experience different challenges in our daily working life. A significant part of the programme involves working on a series of diverse strategies that will help individuals to achieve their persuading and influencing goals. My mission as a successful trainer has always been to regard a group of attendees not as a group but as a group of individuals whose specific learning requirements need to be catered for. I also believe that learning experiences need to be dynamic, fun and positively challenging. The PPIS course is no exception. In two days participants will be able acquire the skills and competencies of influence and persuasion in an experiential setting. From the very first session individuals will be able to engage in a “hands on” set of adult learning activities that will help them to develop confidence and improve their persuading and influencing ability.

The course is run twice a year in June and November. Click here to find out more.

Robert Hersowitz has spent the past 30 years designing and delivering programmes and workshops to a wide variety of organisations in Europe, the USA, the Middle East and Africa. His expertise is broadly based, working with middle and senior management in the private and public sector. He has trained and coached over 30,000 managers and executives and is a regular contributor to conferences as a keynote speaker and seminar leader both in the UK and abroad.

Published on Sep 17, 2019 by Robert Hersowitz