In my experience, the most successful business leaders and entrepreneurs are the best persuaders, not necessarily the ones with the best solutions. They know how to communicate what they have to the best advantage, and generate more results and satisfaction for all parties.
This is a different skill from problem solving, but one that can be learned and honed over time.
Obviously, having both a great solution and great persuasive powers is a winning combination. As a technologist, I’ve always focused on solution development, but only learned the hard way about persuasion drivers, which I found summarized well in a new book, Amplify Your Influence, by Rene Rodriguez. He brings nearly 30 years of behavioral neuroscience to the table.
Here is his summary and mine of the top five ways you can amplify your influence as a leader, business professional, entrepreneur, or executive, to improve your impact on others and better share your vision, gain buy-in from constituents, and present difficult information in a way that keeps everyone engaged and drives action.
1. Credibility: Highlight Your Real-World Experience.
In business, your personal brand is key. You need to build it every day by networking to add connections, using social media to build followers, industry event participation, and gathering customer anecdotes to show your presence and understanding of the relevant domain. Confidence adds leverage.
Another key to credibility is to let your actions speak louder than your words. These actions should include a record of delivering results, and holding yourself accountable as you would anyone else. Don’t use your position to insult, manipulate, or humiliate others.
2. Emotion: Create Empathy With a Personal Story.
Perceived vulnerability is the key to getting emotional buy-in from others. Your ability to convincingly share a struggle, or even humor, is what matters, not your success. Emotions drive business behaviors, as well as personal ones. Effective storytelling requires practice and time, so start today.
In business persuasion, emotional intelligence is more important than IQ. That ability to sense and respond to other people’s emotion is key to getting the trust and buy-in of your team and other constituents as well. Focus more on being heard than being right.
3. Logic: Have More Convincing Facts and Figures.
In business, logic is critical and is what remains after emotion wears off. Without logic, you may leave behind buyer’s remorse and no plan or details to achieve the goal. Unfortunately, logic alone often will not close the negotiation, but in business it is always a key element. Do your homework.
In my experience as an angel investor for startups, I often heard entrepreneurs try to cover their lack of real data with passion for the idea and the potential. I certainly like to hear passion and commitment, but financial commitments require facts to be credible.
4. Timeliness: Take Advantage of the Perfect Moment.
Always tailor your message to your audience based on their current needs, and who they are. It helps to draw on current events to show that you are not out of touch, and your argument is not dated. Be aware that demographics or location always changes the impact of your argument.
Timeliness in business also means never being late for an important meeting with the team or constituents. Perennial tardiness will be perceived as impolite, a waste of other people’s time, and you won’t win at negotiation. Make it a habit to be on-time or early.
5. Purpose: Relate Arguments to a Shared End Game.
Every negotiation or message must have a purpose for all parties involved. Never let yourself be distracted by side issues, or other topics of interest. Keep the focus on the primary objective, including the end-game value to you as well as them. Win-win discussions are particularly valuable.
Espousing and living a higher-level purpose, such as saving the environment or helping the disadvantaged, can also amplify your influence with others, inside the company and out. People who share and respect that purpose will be more supportive and flexible.
I am convinced that if you focus on these five ways to enhance your influence and negotiating success, you will also improve your overall communication, critical thinking, and culture awareness skills.
The end-result will be more business success and personal satisfaction from your lifestyle choice. Start today.