I was teaching a class on Influencing without Authority a few weeks ago and received a list of questions as part of one of the interactive exercises.  It occurred to me that these are common challenges that many of us face so I thought I would answer them in our blog:

  1. At what stage do you decide that a person cannot be influenced and you should develop other strategies for getting work done?


I would say that you need to make at least 3-5 attempts before giving up, each time working to address concerns or sticking points raised in previous discussions.

Each time you will need to keep your focus on the relationship, your technical credibility, clear articulation of your rationale, adaptation to their social style, the use of effective pictures and relevant stories while listening for areas of concern.

  1. If you are driving a program how do you adapt your presentation to the person you are trying to influence when the program is already clearly defined?


If you cannot change the substance I suggest anticipating where their resistance may come from and preparing careful responses. One can also focus on the non-substantive aspects of influencing (relationship, social style, stories, etc.).

  1. How do you influence someone with whom your relationship is very broken?


You need to begin with the relationship, however try not to think in black and white terms about relationships – they are neither broken nor are they ever perfect.  Every interaction will move the needle to the positive or negative side. Take the first step and work towards an honest but positive resolution of what is standing between the two of you.

  1. How do you deal with a manager that lies a lot? They deny that they lie, even though it is recorded on meeting minutes….


If you want to change someone’s behaviour (including your manager) then you need to confront it. However you need to do this with finesse. Avoid judging them as a liar – he/she may have forgotten what they said earlier or may be operating from a different mindset to the original discussion.

Start by describing exactly what you saw that represents the contradiction and explain how it is impacting you. Hear them out and then discuss how to approach these situations in the future.

  1. In order to better prepare for a request, tips for better timing….


The best timing is when:

 – The other party has the time and energy to listen

 – Your relationship feels good

 – You are calm and well prepared

  1. What to do when a “Driver” is set in their ways and that’s the only way


Although not everyone can be influenced on every issue, don’t assume that drivers are stubborn. Typically they just need strong, logical rationale that links to an important result or problem. Start with a firm handshake and keep it brief.

  1. How best to remember all the skills “in the moment”


Here are a few tips:

 – Put a list of the desired behaviours somewhere prominent for you where they will be regularly reviewed

 – Reflect on every positive / negative experience and try to understand what you did that led to success or failure

 – Ask others for feedback whenever you present ideas to a group

  1. How do we deal with a person who already has their mind made up? Based on their own perceptions, not based on what works….


Don’t assume their mind is made up until you have made a few good attempts to influence them (see question 1)

  1. Rumours are being circulated which are misinformed.


The typical cause of rumours is a lack of transparency. In the absence of information people make up their own story and it is often more negative than reality.  Put people in the loop and you will minimize the problem.

  1. How do you deal with emotions when you try to influence someone and it’s not happening?


Do not allow yourself to become emotional – this only makes you seem like an enemy and will almost guarantee that the person will not buy what you are saying. Focus on your body language keeping it open, friendly and show genuine interest in their objections.


Russel Horwitz, Principal