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Entries from March 2015

When Not Influencing is the Right Influencing Style to Adopt

26th March 2015
InfluencingHave you ever been in a situation where you are trying to
influence a peer or a group and nothing seems to be working? You have applied
all the techniques you know from persuasion, to listening, painting a picture
of the new way to assertiveness and still you seem to be making no difference.
This may be for a number of reasons. The other person is
distracted, the timing isn’t right, there may be a degree of tension in them as
well as you…
It’s at times like these the most effective thing to do is
disengage in some way, to temporarily withdraw.
Disengaging can help you maintain focus and prevent you from
being distracted by side issues. You can conserve energy for the more important
Here are some of the tactics you could employ:
  • Use this tactic when you are not prepared and need time, for
    example, delay a meeting.
  • Do not insist others meet with you if they are not ready or
    under stress.
  • Give yourself permission to change your mind about an appointment,
    a decision, delay the action to think it over.
  • Take as much time as you need – particularly useful if someone is trying to pressure you. 


This is particularly helpful if there are several people
  • Try to mediate confrontations that you are not part of – be the cool
  • When things are not going well in a meeting step back from
    the situation and try or change it with interventions such as “we seem to have
    trouble making progress. It seems we have stopped listening to each other.”

Change the subject
  • In meetings where caustic comments are made or there are
    obvious signs of irritation, use humour or another diversion to lessen the
    tension or emotion. Emphasise areas of agreement.
  • When energy starts to decrease or people are becoming
    frustrated return to an earlier point or start another line of discussion that you
    think will be more helpful.
  • When someone becomes more familiar than you’d like keep
    topics focussed on business.  

Take a break
  • When you feel you are being overloaded tell the other person
    you need a few moments alone.
  • In a meeting where there are indications of fatigue or
    stress, or the conversation is going around in circles suggest a break.
Disengaging as an influencing technique can only work when
it’s a deliberate tactic and should not be confused with avoiding where you
  • Minimise or dismiss a difference in opinion
  • Change your own position
  • Withdraw to avoid conflict or confrontation
  • Side step the issue suggesting bureaucratic procedures or
  • Defer to others to avoid the issue

Model the behaviour
you want others to use and practice
  • If you have a tendency to make sarcastic comments or get
    involved in arguments, employ some self-restraint
  • If you get overly involved and lose efficiency, step back
    and give yourself room to think
  • If you have a tendency to meet everyone else’s need and not
    your own try to obtain a balance, postpone and take more breaks

“Distance has the same effect on the mind as on the eye.”

Samuel Johnson

The Good the Bad and the Ugly of Seeking Feedback

13th March 2015
Over the years, working with hundreds of leaders in
business, I have found that people are hungry for feedback and yet most people
don’t ask for it.  When they do
they are often not clear and ask questions like:
  • How did I do?
  • Can you give me some feedback?
  • What can I do differently?

In this blog I have provided some tips on what you can do to get great feedback –
the good, and what to avoid – the bad and the ugly….

The Good
The only way to improve and be a better leader is to receive great feedback and then put into practice what is appropriate for you to be the
leader that you want to be.
Start by getting really clear what it is you want feedback on. When you know this make a very clear request in positive, concrete,
action language and ask for what you actually want e.g.
” I have a request for you.” (This usually grabs people’s
attention and they will stop and listen).
“I have written this presentation and I’d like you to
critique it in the following way:
Does it meet the needs of the target audience?” (Be sure to
tell them who the target audience is)
“What do you think the key messages are?
What if anything can I do to make it clearer in the two
areas above.”
This is just one example of what a request for feedback might be and how to be
clear about what you want.
If you are working at improving the way you influence stakeholders be really clear about what it is you want feedback on; is it your voice
tone, volume, the way you sit and stand, the language you use etc.
Always be
prepared to ask for what the other person would suggest to make it even better ensuring you get specific actions that will help you.
Remember too you don’t always need to take it on board.
The Bad
Here are some common mistakes people make;
  1. Asking in a vague and abstract way using ambiguous phrasing.
    The clearer you are about what you want the more likely you are to get it.
  2. Approaching the person they want feedback from in a sheepish
    way, making little eye contact and speaking quietly.
  3. Skirting around the issue by talking generically about what
    you are working on and saying you would like feedback and not being clear that
    you want feedback from this person.
  4. Being too direct so that your request comes across as a
The Ugly
Here are some indicators to let you know you need some help in how you go about
seeking feedback:
  • You don’t actually know what you want, therefore don’t know
    what to ask for.
  • You ask the wrong person for feedback. This may be someone
    who is not experienced enough on the topic you or simply not
    very good at giving feedback.
  • You ask for what you don’t want e.g. I don’t want feedback
    on the content but anything else would be useful….
  • You just don’t ask making the assumption no news is good


If this criteria applies to you ensure you get support from someone who is really good at asking for feedback, or get a good coach.
What I do know is that people rarely say no when you take
the time to seek their input. They may not be able to offer you anything right
there and then, but they will generally comply if you enter into a conversation
with them.
Be the leader in your life and always ask for what you want – it brings greater clarity to everyone around you.



“Making requests in clear, positive, concrete action
language reveals what we really want.”


Marshall B. Rosenberg
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