Influencing styles can be difficult to master, we want to influence with integrity, and most of all we want the person we are influencing to actually get something done. There are many ways to go about influencing and here we are going to explore two of the most dominant styles.
The simplest and most common form of influence is assertion. It works because it expresses conviction. It challenges the other person to react. As in the game of tennis, it puts the ball in their court, and demands a response.
It gets attention.
When the stakes are low for the other person involved, or when supported by authority, power or another means of intimidation, assertion often succeeds.
The short word for it is Push.
The responsive style works by relying on the basic principle that people do things for their reasons – not ours. The aim is to draw the individual into participating in the search for resolution.
It generates awareness, responsibility and commitment.
On the surface, the responsive style provides less control of situations – but they generally result in stronger and more lasting commitment.
The short word for it is Pull.
Push versus Pull
Specific research (Sheppard Moscow, 1983) focused on the “Push” and “Pull” strategies over several hundred interviews, role-plays and test situations. The findings were:
70% of attempts to influence consisted mostly – if not entirely – of Push efforts. 60% of those failed – even with positional advantages!
Of the 30% that were predominantly Pull attempts less than 25% failed completely. The majority achieved most of the objectives.
Observations showed that commitment to (or compliance with) a push demand may not last for very long after the pressure is removed. Inner conviction, which is a typical result of pull strategy, tends to be more effective.
The results show that what we do most naturally does not produce acceptable results. Why do we keep doing it? When asked, those using the push strategy tended to make comments such as:
“It was the obvious way to present the issue.”
“I knew what I was talking about”
“Their perspective was wrong”
“It was necessary to keep the issue clear and simple, not get into details”
“There wasn’t time to go the long way round”
“Anyone could have seen my solution was the right thing to do”
“Why waste time?”
So, next time you need to influence, it might be worth considering your style before you proceed – focus on their reasons for doing something, not just your own.
Using a coaching style of management will help develop your influencing skills to draw more upon responsive rather than asssertive influencing.