Metice. We were a small group of attendees, six in all, which gave us lots of opportunity to tell our stories, practise our newly developing skills and reflect on them. I attended this session, primarily, because I wanted some tips to enable me to encourage senior academic staff to get behind some reading list software we have introduced at the university, but also to help give me more confidence in doing so.
Influencing, we were told, is not about using Machiavellian techniques nor is it about being a bully. Using either of these styles when managing can often get things done but does not influence, does not 'bring people along' and often means the person in charge won't get the full picture of what's going on as people are wary of engaging in a full discussion. Influencing is much more about instilling trust and cooperation.
Throughout the day we took part in several exercises, below are three which particularly stood out for me:
The Push/Pull exercise - in pairs with palms facing each other, one person would push the other and then vice versa. Then both partners would push each other. This exercise not only got us out of our seats moving around but demonstrated the push and pull flow in a conversation. To influence effectively, Alan explained, there has to be some push (stating what you want, expressing views, opinions and feelings and using pressures and incentives) and pull (actively listening, encouraging and questioning, being open to suggestions and building rapport). If both parties are being assertive, both pushing, then it is more difficult for progress to be made. I liked this exercise for its simplicity in making this point - it's easy to talk about it but when you're physically pushing against someone the process is instantly recognisable.
Some examples of language to use in these situations:
If someone is being too aggressive or assertive, say "can I just stop you there" . This will then give you space to be assertive in response
To build rapport:
- "what do you need from me?"
- "tell me a little bit more"
- "what difficulties are you facing?"
- "how can we work together?"
- giving full attention
- reflecting data
- reflecting feelings
While I tend to give my full attention, reflect feelings and encourage, I realised I could perhaps reflect, interpret and summarise a bit more. In the exercise, I was able to re-call quite detailed information, which I still haven't forgotten, so I'm looking forward to trying this out more often.
|Found on flickrcc.net|
This all may seem very obvious to some people, none of it is revolutionary and I'm sure we've all heard it before at some point or another, however, how many of us actually do it? Despite attending this session for a specific purpose, I discovered tips I could use on a daily basis and it encouraged me to reflect on the way I communicate with people.