Have you ever tried to influence someone, only to fail?

Maybe you tried to introduce a bold new initiative — but couldn’t get support from your manager. Or, maybe you tried to get your team to collaborate on a cross-departmental project — but the whole thing fell apart.

Whatever it was, we’ve all been there.

When we try and fail to influence those around us, there’s a good chance we weren’t clear about what we wanted, why it was important, and who would benefit from it.

If you read BRODY’s most recent blog post, then you know that personal connection is the first key to influencing without authority. Clarity comes next.

Without clarity around our own objectives — and those of the people we want to influence — it’s nearly impossible to persuade anyone around us.

Here are 4 powerful ways that clarity can help you influence others:

1. Diagnose before you prescribe. A good doctor never prescribes treatment before examining and diagnosing the patient. Likewise, you should truly understand the people you want to influence before you try to influence them. Even if you already know them, dig deeper to see a full-color portrait of who they are. What’s their work background and industry experience? Do they have shared interests? Where do they like to go on vacation? What else is important to them?

2. Understand why you’re influencing. What exactly are you trying to accomplish by influencing those around you? Get clear about the current scenario — and your desired outcome. If you have a specific new goal, define it. If you need support, think about why you need it and where you need it from.

3. Know -- what’s in it for them? Why is your “ask” important to the person, team, company — or whoever else you’re trying to influence? This is personal. If you’re looking for buy-in from a senior leader, clarify why your initiative is personally important to that executive. Why should the executive care? What will the benefits be, both for the senior leader and the company? 

4. Stop making assumptions. Never assume anything about people you’re trying to influence. Ask questions to clarify their goals, challenges, and motivations. Here are a few types of questions to use:

  • Illustration questions                                                                                                        “Can you share your thoughts with me?”                                                                           “What are you thinking about right now?”
  • Clarification questions
    “You just said that _____ was very important to you. What, exactly, does _____ mean to you?”
    “Can you explain what you mean by that?”
  • Consequence questions                                                                                                       “If this issue persists, what other issues might it cause?”                                                     “What will happen if we don’t address this problem now?”

Clarity is key to influencing without authority.

Without it, you simply can’t persuade those around you. BRODY Pro’s interactive “Influence without Authority” workshop develops the skills needed to increase collaboration and team performance. You can download a full outline of the workshop here.

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