There is, in fact, a science to influencing others. However, the problem is that, as discussed in Influencer (by Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzler), most of us are better copers than influencers.
They write that we have become entangled in the “Serenity Trap,” courtesy of Alcoholics Anonymous’ serenity prayer (“Accept the things I cannot change”), to the point where we forget that we actually can make a difference.
One tool that Patterson et al. identify is storytelling. Say you are managing a project and you want people to do what you tell them to do. You might think, “Well, I’m the manager. I’ll just tell them what to do, and that’s that.” But, as I’m sure you’ve seen in your career, that isn’t necessarily that.
Patterson et al. suggest that a much better option is to tell a story—a story that provides hope—one that will help people answer two important questions: “Will it be worth it?” and “Can I do it?”
What story might you tell? Perhaps one along these lines:
Yes, this is a challenging project, but what a chance to show off your skills! The last person who did this ended up getting a promotion, and I know you are as talented as she is.Doesn’t that sound more inviting than, “Do what I told you to do! Period”?
The thing about stories is that they create reflective moments that tap into the listener’s emotions. Produce an emotional response and you’re well on your way to being a master influencer.
--By Alan Levin, LMSW