Adapt your social style to influence others

A key skill relevant to leaders at all levels is the ability to positively influence people in such a way that others follow you and act willingly —as opposed to complying because of the “authority” you hold from the organisation.  We discussed this last week as we reviewed resistance to change and how to positively influence people in favour of change.

Although I was not adept at influencing skills, I came to realise that influence without authority is an essential life skill and is constantly at play in the workplace. Let’s look at some of the most important things you can do to build on this core skill set to your business leading advantage.  Last we looked at different types of resistance, and this week we’ll look at how adapting your social style will assist you.

Adapt to difference social styles

Everyone has a different way of going about the things they do. In many previous posts I’ve written about DISC and other behaviour profile. Again, understanding the behaviour preferences of the people you work with and are influencing is vital to management success.

It is easy to forget that the other party you are trying to influence, might be hearing something completely different from the information you think you have communicated. The reason for this again stems from what are essentially four primary social styles:

Dominant: Direct, results-orientated
Influencing : Outgoing, creative, social
Steady: Dependable, easygoing, sensitive
Conscientious: Systematic, accurate, structured, logical

Bearing these four social archetypes in mind and how they influence our choice of behaviours and responses, how might we better understand our differences in order to find more common ground?

Step 1 is to understand your own biases and to learn how to moderate them.

For example, Dominant preferrers often have to focus on improving their listening skills. Influentials may need to focus on providing a solid and supported rationale and embracing the structured thinking of more logical people. Steady’s may need to speak up and let their thoughts be known. Conscientious may need to focus on the personal touch when seeking to grow their ability to influence.  Which of these style preferences do you have, and what are the weaknesses and downsides when it comes to communicating and influencing others?

Step 2 is to understand and adapt to the preferred style of the person you are attempting to influence.

Dominants become quickly frustrated with long-windedness or poorly constructed arguments and are best influenced through direct, brief, results-orientated discussions.

Influentials place a high value on social contact and status. They are best influenced by including them in brief and high-energy decision-making while dealing with feelings and showing respect for their own ideas and past actions.

Steadys place a high value on group and interpersonal harmony and avoiding personal risk. When influencing an Steady, don’t go for the quick “yes”. Show patience, ask about their feelings and show how you plan to positively manage the impact of change on people.

Conscientious become frustrated with ideas that are not thought through properly, supported with facts, and well presented in a logical way. When attempting to influence Conscientious, provide hard evidence, do not overstate the benefits and invite their critique – it may just save you!

And remember…
You may not think of yourself as a salesperson, however, if your role is to influence others in a significant way you need to employ many of the same sales skills. It is not complicated, but takes mindfulness and careful thought, particularly when under stress and pressure. This approach can greatly increase the odds of getting your good ideas adopted.