You know I’m a slave to the Harvard Business Review, and in August they dedicated an entire issue to influence in the workplace. As you know, we Revolutionary Assistants rely on influence. We have no real power over the people we need to wrangle; they’re usually sitting on a much higher level of the organizational hierarchy than we are. So how do we exert influence over them to get things done?
One article I read that month identified the six principles of persuasion, and I thought it would be a great thing to share. These are the kinds of things that can help you have more influence in the office:
Liking – It stands to reason that, if people like you, they will do things for you. I find this to be the case all the time. Those people that are easy to get along with and fun to be around are far more likely to convince you to do something for them. Those that are not nice to be around…not so much.
Reciprocity – If you scratch someone’s back, it’s likely that person will scratch yours. Be willing to do favors and extra work for people, and you can “bank” that goodwill, as people are likely to respond to you in kind.
Social proof – People tend to do things that they see other people doing, especially if those people are similar to them. So, if you can get one SVP in your manager’s group to help you out, it’s worthwhile to point it out to some of the other SVPs in hopes that they’ll follow suit.
Commitment and consistency – People want to appear to be consistent and keep their commitments. If a commitment is made in public and is voluntary, they’re likely to want to follow through. I’m not recommending you bully someone into agreeing to assist you in front of a huge audience, but if it happens…more power to you.
Authority – People defer to experts and to those in positions of authority. I usually dislike wielding this one, because I don’t want to be the one that goes around telling people, “The boss wants you to do it” when there’s a better way to get your result. But at times it needs to be used, and it’s pretty efficient.
Scarcity – People value things more if they perceive them to be scarce. If you can position your request as something that’s not going to be around much longer or something that’s not going to happen again for a while, you may get a better response.
I often think, “Wow, if I were the CEO, I could just tell people ‘Do it!’ and not have to coerce and chide them into action.” But even if I were the CEO, the power of influence and persuasion has to be in my corner. CEOs can boss people around, sure, but they aren’t successful at their jobs if they don’t have buy-in from their direct reports on initiatives and issues. Persuasion is important at all levels, and it’s a good thing for a Revolutionary Assistant to have command of it!
Next Post: Wednesday, February 19