5 Influencing Styles

What sets apart a good leader from an exceptional one? The former navigates the professional waters; the latter charts the course. At the heart of this distinction lies the art of influence – a trait that builds trust and facilitates vision and execution. Welcome to a journey of self-discovery, mid-career professionals and leaders, for we are about to dive into the 5 influencing styles that can redefine your leadership trajectory.

Leaders who continually learn and grow understand the significance of influence, a skill that builds trust and increases their sway over others. Without comprehension of the 5 influencing styles, you may be unaware of the impact of your influence. Leveraging influencing these styles, rationalizing, asserting, negotiating, inspiring, and bridging, can shape your interactions and help you become a leader, more self-aware, and develop connections to help your career growth.

Influencing Style #1: Rationalizing – The Persistent Persuader

Are you a master of facts and reasoning? You might be a Rationalizer. You wield influence through logical argumentation and cold, hard data. But remember, every decision-maker’s brain is only half a calculator; the other half is an empathetic processor. Tying your rationality to relatable outcomes can cast an illuminating light on your proposals.

The rationalizing style of influencing involves using logic and reasoning to influence people. It requires a deep understanding of the subject matter and the ability to present facts compellingly.

This influencing style is often used when trying to impact someone who is an analytical thinker. When someone is more of a logical thinker, they will be influenced by objective facts, information that establishes them as an expert, and based on supporting data. 

When you’re talking with someone, if you find that they are using sources to back up their information or continually taking a more logical approach to the conversation, you may want to consider shifting to rationalizing. 

This will help them feel confident in what you’re saying, and you’ll significantly impact the analytical thinkers who will trust what you say. 

Tips for Implementing Rationalizing in Conversations

  • Gather and Present Relevant Information: Before presenting an argument, gather all the relevant facts, data, and statistics that support your point. This will make your case more compelling and difficult to ignore.
  • Use Analogies or Examples: When explaining a complex concept, it can be helpful to use relatable scenarios or real-life examples that people can easily understand.
  • Ask Clarifying Questions: Encourage analytical thinkers to engage in the conversation by asking thought-provoking questions that challenge their current thinking.
  • Stay Objective: It’s important to remain impartial and avoid emotional arguments when rationalizing. Focus on presenting objective facts and let them speak for themselves.
  • Be Confident and Assertive: Rationalizing requires confidence in your knowledge and ability to present logical arguments. Be assertive in your delivery and avoid using tentative language or phrases like “I think” or “maybe.”
  • Listen Actively: Listening to the other person’s perspective is as important as presenting information. This allows for a more balanced and productive conversation.
  • Avoid Personal Attacks: Keep the conversation focused on ideas and facts rather than attacking the individual. This will only hinder the effectiveness of rationalizing and can lead to a breakdown in communication.
  • Acknowledge Common Ground: Find areas of agreement or shared understanding with the other person, as this can help build a foundation for a productive conversation.
  • Practice Patience: Implementing rationalizing techniques takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself and others, and allow open-minded discussions to occur naturally. You’ll see the benefits of rationalizing in all aspects of your life by constantly honing your skills and having open-minded conversations.

Recent studies have highlighted the efficacy of rational influencing techniques in decision-making processes across various sectors. A comprehensive survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that 78% of successful influencers cite rational persuasion as their go-to strategy during critical business negotiations. A 2021 Journal of Business Psychology study concluded that employees who adopt rationalizing tactics have a 32% higher persuasion success rate than peers relying solely on emotional appeals. This data underscores the potency of rationalizing as a key element in shaping opinions, driving consensus, and achieving desired outcomes in professional settings.

Rationalizing is a powerful tool that can be used to navigate difficult or controversial topics respectfully and productively. You can effectively communicate your perspective and reach a mutual understanding with others. These skills are not only beneficial in personal relationships but also in the workplace or larger societal discussions.

Influencing Style #2: Asserting – The Confident Convincer

Asserters exude confidence and decisiveness. Their influence stems from clarity of message and purpose. But tread carefully, for an overbearing stance can overshadow even the most notable ideas. Adapt a more approachable posture, let collaboration enhance your drive, and watch as trust multiplies your influence manifold.

Asserting is a straightforward influencing style where you clearly express your thoughts, opinions, and needs. It’s about standing your ground, asserting your position, and persuading others through conviction and confidence.

Think about when someone used authority and preferences to pressure and motivate others. This style of influencing is used by people who are confident and convincing. When someone says something with power and confidence, people tend to listen. 

The assertive influencing style doesn’t often need data to prove a point or a conversation back and forth to influence someone. Instead, it takes a direct approach to influence people by positioning yourself as the expert.

This style of influence can often be effective when there is hierarchal power—people will be influenced by you just because of who you are and what you say. 

An assertive influencing style can help you make meaningful networks by establishing you as an expert and well-respected. People with an assertive influencing style will look up to you and want to network with you. 

Many renowned figures exhibit an assertive communication style, employing it to leave a lasting impact on their audience. For instance, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., was known for his clear and direct presentations that captivated and influenced his audience. Similarly, Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States, inspires many with her assertive speeches, advocating for education, health, and equality with undeniable confidence. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during World War II, leveraged his assertive oratory skills to boost morale and influence international politics. These influential figures mastered the art of assertive speaking, demonstrating the power of confidence and clarity in communication.

Implement assertive style in your conversations by practicing the following steps:

  • Express Clearly: Be crystal clear about what you want to convey. Use concise language and avoid ambiguity.
  • Maintain Eye Contact: When speaking, maintain appropriate eye contact to demonstrate confidence and sincerity.
  • Strong Body Language: Stand tall, and do not slouch; let your posture reflect your confidence.
  • Be Respectful: While being assertive, respect others’ opinions and beliefs. Assertiveness should not be confused with aggressiveness.
  • Listen Actively: Listening to others attentively shows that you value their input, creating a receptive atmosphere for assertive communication.
  • Stay Calm: Even if the conversation becomes heated, keep your emotions in check and remain composed.
  • Use “I” Statements: Start sentences with “I” to take ownership of your opinions and feelings without blaming or criticizing others.
  • Practice: Like any skill, assertiveness improves with practice. Begin with low-stakes conversations and gradually move to more significant discussions.
  • Reflect: After conversations, self-reflect to evaluate your assertiveness. Was your message conveyed? How did the audience react

By integrating these steps into your daily interactions, you’ll develop the finesse that renowned leaders possess—becoming a pillar of inspiration and a confident voice in any dialogue.

Influencing Style #3: Negotiating – The Diplomatic Dealmaker

Diplomats understand influence as an exchange, a give-and-take that respects all parties’ needs. If you find joy in compromising to find common ground, you’re likely a Negotiator. To hone this style, sharpen your listening skills and practice reframing discussions to emphasize the wins for all involved.

In its essence, negotiation is about finding a middle ground. This influencing style is particularly useful when parties have different interests or views. The goal is to arrive at an agreement that satisfies all involved by compromising and finding a win-win solution. Positive and negative negotiation influences one’s confidence level because it allows you to find common ground where both parties are happy. 

If there’s not one right way or a bit of conflict, negotiating can allow you to influence someone to agree with you by giving and taking where necessary. When negotiating, people can feel like their needs are met. 

You may find negotiating with someone with different interests or ideas helpful. Being open and willing to negotiate creates an opportunity to build a relationship with someone because they’ll be more willing to listen to what you say. Negotiation allows both parties to feel satisfied with where you’ve landed. 

Historical figures such as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi exemplify the negotiating influencing style through their profound impact on human rights and freedom. Mandela, in his relentless struggle against apartheid, demonstrated the power of negotiation from his prison cell and later as President in diffusing racial tensions and fostering reconciliation in South Africa. Similarly, Gandhi’s non-violent resistance and negotiation with the British Empire led to India’s independence. Both figures understood that lasting change comes not from a victory for one side but from agreements that respect the interests of all parties involved.

Consider the following negotiating as an influencing style in everyday conversations:

  • Listen Actively: Understand the other party’s position carefully without interrupting. This shows respect and helps you to grasp their interests and concerns fully.
  • Communicate Clearly: Straightforwardly articulate your views and intentions. Clarity prevents misunderstanding and builds a foundation for finding common ground.
  • Establish Common Goals: Identify mutual interests and shared objectives. This can create a positive atmosphere and a sense of purpose that benefits all parties.
  • Be Open-minded: Be willing to consider alternative viewpoints and solutions. This flexibility can lead to more creative and agreeable outcomes.
  • Seek Win-Win Outcomes: Aim for solutions where everyone gains something. This approach increases the likelihood of a successful negotiation and maintains positive relationships.
  • Maintain a Positive Attitude: Approach negotiations with a positive mindset and demonstrate cooperative behavior. This can influence the overall tone and lead to a more amicable resolution.
  • Prepare to Compromise: Be ready to give and take. Compromise is a cornerstone of negotiation; preparing to make concessions can move the conversation forward.
  • Focus on Relationship-building: Prioritize the relationship over the issue at hand. A good relationship can enable smoother negotiations and pave the way for future interactions.

By consistently applying these steps, negotiating becomes not just a method of resolving differences but an integral part of daily communication that fosters understanding and cooperation.

Influencing Style #4: Inspiring – The Visionary Enticer

If your words stoke the flames of inspiration and your vision paints a future worth working towards, you embody the Influencing style of a Visionary. Power your influence with the collective spirit, weaving narratives that unite your team towards a shared goal. But be warned, words without matching action will dull the sheen of your vision.

The inspiring influencing style energizes people and encourages them to go beyond what they think is possible. This style is characterized by a charismatic approach, often leveraging powerful storytelling, vivid language, and an infectious enthusiasm to motivate others. Inspiring influencers are visionaries; they paint a picture of a better future and appeal to others’ desires to be a part of something greater than themselves. They recognize the importance of emotion in persuasion and work to elicit passion and commitment, triggering action by tapping into shared values and aspirations. Such influencers thrive in positive environments and are great at building momentum to overcome apathy and resistance.

Sharing personal triumphs and overcoming adversity can be a profound source of inspiration. When people hear of others’ success and the hurdles they’ve surpassed, they often find the courage to face their own challenges. The inspiring influencing style, therefore, leverages this connection through storytelling, embodying perseverance, and using motivational language that resonates with the audience. It transforms the achievement narrative into a powerful catalyst, prompting individuals to embark on their journeys toward success, invigorated by the example they see.

People like to feel good about working toward something; you can help them feel good through inspiration. If someone is hopeful or has a shared interest, inspiring them will be the most impactful. You can develop a meaningful connection by working together for a common goal.

One powerful study that underscores the impact of inspirational leadership on global effectiveness is the Project GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness) research program. This extensive study, which delved into the relationship between leadership behavior and culture, was conducted by Robert J. House and involved 170 researchers worldwide. It identified “inspirational motivation” — leaders who communicate high expectations, use symbols to focus efforts, and express important purposes in simple ways — as one of the key attributes that resonate across cultures for effective leadership. What’s particularly insightful about Project GLOBE is its finding that while different cultures have varying expectations of their leaders, the ability to inspire and motivate is universally associated with successful leadership in a global context. This research has profound implications for leaders operating internationally, suggesting that the power to inspire is a transcendent tool for leadership effectiveness despite cultural differences.

To employ the inspiring influence effectively in everyday conversations:

  • Share Visionary Stories: Narrate compelling stories that highlight the achievements of others or the successful completion of projects. This can create a sense of possibility and evoke enthusiasm. Lead by example and share your own personal stories of success and the challenges you’ve faced along the way.
  • Use Positive Language: Incorporate positive language into your conversations, such as “I believe in you” or “You are capable of great things.” This can help instill confidence and motivation in others. Avoid negative language that may discourage or demotivate individuals.
  • Emphasize Shared Values: Highlight common principles and ethics to generate a strong rapport among all individuals. People with the same values connect deeper and are more likely to be open to your ideas.
  • Express Genuine Enthusiasm: Let your own excitement be contagious. When you speak passionately about a vision or goal, others are likelier to catch that spirit. Show enthusiasm and energy when discussing ideas, and encourage others to share their own passions and ideas.
  • Appeal to Emotion: Use emotional appeals that speak to people’s desires and needs. People are motivated by passions and aspirations, so appeal to those emotions to drive them towards action.
  • Provide Support: Inspiring others also involves supporting them. Offer guidance, encouragement, and resources to help individuals achieve their goals. Be receptive to feedback and provide constructive criticism when needed.
  • Acknowledge Contributions: Recognize and appreciate the efforts and contributions of others. Showing gratitude can boost morale and reinforce the value of teamwork towards the shared goal. Take the time to thank individuals for their hard work and contributions, both publicly and privately.
  • Build Trust: Create an environment of trust where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Be transparent in your communication, listen actively, and value everyone’s unique perspectives. This can foster collaboration and ultimately lead to better outcomes.
  • Foster a Collaborative Environment: Encourage the sharing of ideas and co-creation. When people feel part of shaping the vision, their investment and energy levels increase. A culture of collaboration makes everyone feel valued and empowered to contribute towards the common goal.
  • Lead by Example: Inspiring others starts with you. Lead by example and demonstrate the qualities and behaviors you want to see in others. Show determination, resilience, and a positive attitude toward challenges. Be open to learning from mistakes and continuously strive for self-improvement.

By integrating these approaches into daily interactions, you can effectively use the inspiring style to motivate and energize those around you toward collective achievements.

Influencing Style #5: Bridging – The Harmonious Connector

Bridge builders are all about people, relationships, and harmony. You’re a true connector if you excel in weaving the personal with the professional, ensuring everyone feels heard and valued. Your influence thrives on understanding and synthesizing varied perspectives into coherent, unified action.

This influencing style thrives on creating a sense of belonging and community among individuals, fostering collaboration and cooperation. It involves actively listening to others, understanding their perspectives, and finding common ground to build upon.

This style of influencing often makes people feel seen and noticed. You can bridge the gap with just about anyone by asking questions, intentionally listening to answers, and finding common ground.

This influencing style draws people in because it creates connections and builds relationships where there might not have been anything before. You can develop a meaningful network through this style by making people feel valued and included. 

You can also use bridging to connect people and help them build meaningful relationships, where both parties will associate you with the connection. This will help you be an influential person in their lives for longer. 

Practical Steps for Implementing Bridging into Daily Interactions:

  • Become a Relationship Architect: Introduce individuals who may benefit from knowing each other and facilitate the initial engagement. This can significantly expand the network of support and collaboration among your peers.
  • Practice Active Listening: Show genuine interest in what others have to say by listening attentively and acknowledging their viewpoints. This can be as simple as maintaining eye contact, nodding, and asking clarifying questions.
  • Cultivate Empathy: Strive to understand the emotions and motivations of others. Acknowledging and resonating with their feelings can help form deep, authentic connections.
  • Foster Open Communication: Encourage open dialogue by asking open-ended questions in every interaction. Actively seek opinions and thoughts from those around you, ensuring everyone has a platform to voice their ideas.
  • Identify Common Interests: Discuss common goals or interests when conversing with others. This shared ground can be the foundation for stronger, more collaborative relationships.
  • Be Genuine and Inclusive: Bridging is most effective from a place of authenticity. Be genuine in your interest to connect with others and build meaningful relationships. Make an effort to include everyone in the conversation or group activity. This will create a sense of belonging and foster collaboration among individuals.
  • Encourage Collaboration: Instead of focusing on your own agenda, encourage others to work together and find solutions that benefit everyone. This will strengthen relationships and demonstrate your commitment to building connections.
  • Lead by Example: Demonstrate the power of unity and cooperation in your actions. When others see the positive results of bridging efforts, they are more likely to be inspired to follow suit.
  • Celebrate Diversity: Embrace the diverse perspectives and skills each person brings to the table. Highlighting and integrating these differences can lead to more innovative and cohesive outcomes.

Understanding and skillfully deploying these influencing styles can make a difference in your leadership journey. Remember, influence is not about manipulation or coercion. Instead, it’s about fostering relationships, understanding others, and bringing about a positive impact.

Chances are, you’re already leveraging your power to influence people more than you know, but without knowing the influencing style or how it impacts people, you may be oblivious to the impact. Each style has its unique impact; knowing when and how to use them is an art that successful influencers master.

Whether you’re an executive, a manager, or an emerging leader, every interaction is an opportunity to influence. By mastering these styles, you can strategically navigate any professional setting, leaving a lasting impression and becoming a beacon of inspiration for others. After all, influence is less about your power and more about the value you bring to the conversations and relationships you participate in.

If what gets measured gets managed, you can learn to build trust by using effective influencing styles and creating strategies to help you measure your influence. As you incorporate 5 influencing styles into your daily routine, picture yourself learning, applying, growing, and evolving into a master of influence.

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