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Classic influencing styles in detail

Classic influencing styles in detail

The following builds on the approaches highlighted above and illustrate some of the most commonly employed influencing styles used in normal business life. When reviewing these styles reflect on your own influencing strategies and consider whether or not you need to develop or add to your range of styles. In order to be effective we need to be able to call upon a range of styles and employ them in appropriate circum­stances. In any influencing situation it is the person who possesses the greatest flexibility in a range of styles who will ultimately succeed. If we get stuck into one pattern we might win sometimes but we will also have our fair share of failures.


  • Stating your own position – being assertive.
  • Intuitive/creative – gut feel, hunches.
  • Logical – the facts.
  • Supportive – developing a common agenda.
  • Judgmental – discriminating/criticizing.
  •  Clarifying the position of others – developing an understanding.

Stating your own position – being assertive – the characteristics

  • Being persistent about your own needs and requirements.
  • Declaring your needs and wants.
  • Stating your rights – “I am entitled to X”.
  • Being strong without damaging others.
  • Demanding from other people.


  •  I appreciate your point but I must again request the following…
  • I want to make it clear to you that I expect.
  •  I feel you have not understood my position so let me again reit­erate it.
  • I need to know that you have ensured the following.
  •  My situation is such that I am not prepared to accept that response because.
  • My concern is.
  • That proposal gives me a problem because I want to.

Intuitive/creative – the characteristics

  • Proposing new ideas.
  • Raising alternative approaches.
  • Brainstorming radical methods.
  • Challenging others’ methods, thinking and assumptions. STATEMENTS
  • I suggest we tackle this from a different angle.
  • How about looking at the situation from another perspective.
  • Here’s a new idea.
  • What would happen if we did…?
  • Shouldn’t we really be focusing on.?
  • I really feel that we should be looking at some more radical alter­natives.
  • What if.?
  • Aren’t we missing the point here! Surely we need to focus on x not y.!

Logical – the characteristics

  • Stating the facts – using the data and evidence.
  • Keeping things to the point.
  • Being rational and calm.
  • Applying logic and analysis.
  • Evaluating the criteria.


  • Let’s look at the facts as they really are.
  • Simply look at the reality of the situation.
  • That is simply not supported by the figures.
  • The evidence does not support that approach.
  • We really need to focus on the data and the reality of the results.
  • We should really keep those judgmental and emotive issues outside of the discussion.
  • That is not logical.
  • That idea would never work because of…
  • Where is your evidence?
  • How can you justify or support that argument or approach? I see no evidence for it in the data?

Supportive – the characteristics

  • Involving and bringing in other people.
  • Rewarding others for their contributions and efforts.
  • Building on others’ ideas.
  • Offering positive ideas and suggestions to build on other contributions.


  • I understand how you feel.
  • That’s an excellent idea.
  • I fully appreciate your situation.
  • That could prove an important issue that Max has just mentioned, perhaps we should discuss it in more detail.
  • I like the way you outlined the challenge.
  • What if we thought about the point raised by Jean.
  • I found that a helpful input on the problem.
  • If we also added x to your suggestion that might also help.

Judgmental – the characteristics

  • Being overly critical.
  • Disagreeing.
  • Highlighting obstacles.
  • Seeing only problems.


  • I disagree…
  • That will not work because of.
  • That’s rubbish!
  • You seem to have missed several key points.
  • You have overlooked the problem of xyz.
  • Yes, but.
  • We seem to have a major disagreement here.
  • This is getting us nowhere – you are clearly failing to see the problem.
  • Your analysis is overly simplistic.
  • That’s a preposterous idea.

Clarifying others’ positions – the characteristics

  • Drawing out other people’s ideas.
  • Probing for more information.
  • Seeking more facts.
  • Listening, showing understanding.
  • Picking up unspoken feelings, non-verbal cues.


  • Could you say more about that?
  • What do you need to say?
  • Can you give an example?
  • You sound as though you have more to say about that issue?
  •  To sum up what you are saying…
  • Could I check I have fully understood what you are saying?
  • It sounds like you really feel/think that.
  • I sense you are not very pleased about the issue. Is that true?
  • Have I understood what you have said correctly? You are saying the following.

What influencing styles do you use?

  • Do you have the right range and balance of styles?
  • Do you use too much of any style? What is the consequence of that?
  •  What styles do you find it difficult to deal with? Why? How could you learn to cope with them?
  • What other styles do you need to develop to become more effective?
  •  Generate a list of new influencing statements or expressions that you could practise using in meetings or in other influencing type situations.

Using power to influence others – where do you get yours from?

In the corporate world we normally associate power with the level of executive authority someone possesses. Yet the authority we get in an organization is not always simply a function of our position or rank. The fact is that there are many other sources of authority that we can potentially use to influence colleagues. Consider which ones you use and ask yourself how would you manage if you lost your current sources of power tomorrow. How would you get things done?

Hierarchical This is the power you derive based on your position in your management or organization structure. It is the source of power that most people rely on.

Information        Power that comes from having information or knowl­edge that others do not possess – for example your access to specific technical or market knowledge.

Expertise Possessing a particular skill set or range of experiences that others do not.

Reputation. The power you gain from your proven track record and past performance. “They always deliver the results!” “She knows what she is talking about!”

Charisma The magic ingredient – personality, voice, appearance, energy, warmth, presence etc. Often very difficult to define but easy to identify.

Positional This power comes from the unique nature of your role, e.g. being in a key position in a critical communication network – close to the customer or the problem.

Coercive The power to punish and impose sanctions on others. Possibly linked to hierarchical power.

Ineffective managers will tend to rely on one or two sources of power to get things done, normally hierarchical and positional. Conversely, effective managers will operate from several power bases. In an increasingly knowledge-based work environment we cannot simply rely on the power that comes to us from our position. Increasingly we see a greater emphasis being placed on expertise and knowledge as the key sources of influence and power. Consequently we will all need to develop other sources of power in order to influence people successfully.

To influence someone successfully we need to analyze the situation and the type of person we are dealing with. We need to reflect on the level of authority people possess and their desired aims and objectives as well as our own. We then have to be able to employ a range of influ­encing styles based on our interpretation of all these factors. In so doing we have to avoid falling into the trap of relying on one approach and so antagonizing the other person. Only by being aware of our own natural preferences and the alternative approaches is it possible to identify and select the most effective strategy to influence others. Ultimately it is all about the words we use and how we say them.

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