Influencing others – having an impact on their ideas, opinions, and actions – requires using different types of conversations and not recognizing this limits our effectiveness.
I recently read an article in which the authors maintain that effective leadership requires influencing others and that leaders can influence those others through five different influence styles. The authors point out that we each have preferred influence styles and that we use them even when they don’t work. Increased effectiveness, therefore, comes from learning and using other influence styles.
Influence, however, is more than a matter of style, it is also a matter of using the appropriate type of conversation. If you want someone to consider a new idea, for example, an initiative conversation is appropriate. However, if you want to influence their understanding or opinion, then an understanding conversation is the way to go. If its action you want to influence, then partnering performance and closure conversations are what’s needed. And, if you want to influence someone’s opinion of you, then closure conversations are your best bet.
Clearly there are lots of ways in which you can have conversations – aggressively, timidly, etc. – and these ways of conversing contribute to your influence style. However, if you use the wrong type of conversation, style won’t make up for it. Influence depends on our ability to use the appropriate conversations as well as the manner in which we have those conversations.