Influencing skills are the ability to have an affect on someone or something. If you influence someone else, you are changing a person or thing in an indirect but important way. Influence can help you control a situation, encourage collaborative working and produce a positive result.
If you are in a supervisory position, gaining influence can make you more respected and appreciated. In a meeting scenario, gaining influence can make your voice more likely to be heard and acknowledged. Good communication and influencing skills are essential for leadership. Leaders must be heard and understood. This involves, listening, earning respect, having the ability to adapt to your audience, clear body language and focus. If you have found yourself in a project management role this is likely because you have already demonstrated these skills. By being aware of ways you can improve them will help you continue to succeed in this role.
Keys to great communication and influencing
By taking time to listen to the views of others we can understand so much more about what is happening around us. The purpose of listening should be to understand the viewpoint of someone else and not just to give your own reply. Being an engaged listener can demonstrate your appreciation of the other person and create an authentic connection. Always make a conscious effort to really listen to what they are saying, maintain eye contact and only respond when they have finished after taking a moment to formulate your thoughts.
Respect is earned through actions and not titles. Your team will be looking for a leader who they believe can lead them and they know they can trust. Someone supportive, responsible and able to engage with others without being patronising and authoritarian. By taking time to understand what other people require of you and seeing the situation from their perspective you will start to align your intensions with theirs. As a result you will create foundations to build rapport and establish great working relationships.
Adapting your style to suit the audience
As a leader you may need to communicate with a wide range of people. This requires an understanding of the language and jargon you use. Are you coming across as too simplistic or too complicated? Finding the right middle ground is essential for others to understand what you are talking about.
Likewise, are you speaking at the right pace? Talking too quickly can often indicate nerves and a lack of knowledge on the subject which can damage your credibility. Be sure to enunciate your words carefully.
This is an often forgotten and underestimated element of communication. No matter the topic or your knowledge or your confidence, your body language can let you down if it isn’t consistent with the message you are sharing. Demonstrate confidence by keeping an open posture stance, leaning towards your audience and keeping arms relaxed. Try not to fiddle or fidget. This will keep everyone focused on you and not your movements.
Always consider how your message is coming across to others. What may seem hugely interesting to you, say going through data for an hour, may be very dull and dry for others. Being aware of this will help you tailor your message so it focuses n what you what to get from the people you are telling. If you centre your communication around yourself, your objectives, thoughts and expectations you are excluding everyone else and they will simply tune out. Always focus your message on key points and be clear.
Engage in Learning provide Influencing Pathway courses which will help you clarify your goals, focus efforts on the right people and select the most appropriate influencing tactics. The Communicating to Influence course will show you how to adapt your communication skills to the situation and the people involved.