Is It Better To Persuade Or Influence?

February 26, 2013

Managing people often involves asking people to carry out tasks that they may be reluctant to do. So do we persuade them to do it or should we influence them to do it. Is there a difference?

When we seek to persuade someone it may be interpreted that we are PUSHING in order to get somebody to do what WE want them to do.

If we seek to influence someone we are effectively PULLING someone towards our way of thinking and therefore THEY have more control over the decision and are seen to be making their own choice.

This is often seen as one of the key differences between management and leadership. Typically if you are managing someone it could imply that you are telling them what do and organising them. If however you are looking to lead someone, you are looking to equip them so that actually they can make more decisions for themselves and will be more likely to follow you.

By involving people and bringing them along on your journey to achieve the vision, you are more likely to have willing employees. Creating an excitement about how you see the future can be very inspiring. People who work for you need to understand the way you think and the reasons behind what you are looking to achieve.

You may not know exactly how the goal is going to be achieved but by inviting people to contribute along the way, you will influence the approach purely by listening and valuing their ideas.

The idea here is to have creative, confident, happy and willing colleagues who fully buy-in to the future you are creating together. By showing belief in their ability to support you in this quest, they are less likely to put up barriers. Showing why you are so convinced that this is the right way to go whilst also having an open mind to feedback from others, will set you aside from mediocre managers who just don’t care what their team think.

If you are always seeking to persuade rather than influence you may find that people only work to the letter of what you ask them to do, in other words the minimum they have to do.

Making the effort to really understand and listen to them and share your energy with them means that they is a greater chance that they will anticipate what is required. In this situation you may not have to say anything because they have already worked out what you want them to do.

It is much more enjoyable for employees to know that they can confidently make decisions on behalf of their boss. They feel trusted and crucial to the success of the team and ultimately influence the future.

So, instead of wasting energy constantly pushing against someone’s will to get them to do things, work with them so that you are pulling together to reach your destination with less effort and more fun!

Many thanks

Scott Rumsey

Senior Management Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training

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