Influencing: a personal example
When writing the People Skills Revolution I wanted to interview a chief executive officer for the book. I had heard about him through the ‘grape vine’ and thought that he might be working at the level of peace maker. I needed a practical example for the chapter on making peace but I was also curious to meet him.
I am an independent consultant and I am aware that CEO’s receive hundreds of unsolicited approaches for people like me every week. Over the previous two years I had coached a couple of people in this organisation. I was invited to do so by an ex client who was now working there at the time.
As the saying goes ‘you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression’ and I really wanted to meet this man. I considered sending a copy of the People Skills Revolution, mentioning my coaching experience, asking directly for an interview and hoping for the best.
I then had a brain wave. I would contact my ex client who is now a friend outlining the background to the request, explain how I proposed to approach the CEO, reassure him that my interest was research rather than commerical and ask him his opinion on my strategy. I also mentioned that I was seeking other examples for the book including negotiation.
I believe that my friend had a number of options here. He could have ignored the request although I felt that was unlikely due to our long standing friendship. He could have made comments on my approach and that would have been very helpful to me. Or he could have done something better than this that I was totally not expecting.
Within minutes my friend, who had now moved onto another organisation came back to me and had gained agreement for me to have a two hour interview with the CEO.
The transcript of this conversation forms the basis of the chapter on making peace. I found the interview fascinating since it tracks the CEO’s personal development journey from his original decision to become more assertive through the stages of influencing, negotiation, conciliation, taking a stand to becoming a peace maker.
But the really interesting interaction in this scenario is the action of the ex client/friend. Not only did he go out of his way to help me by facilitating the meeting but he also had lunch with me to tell me the brilliant example of negotiation that you will find in the chapter on negotiation, which had me and him in fits of laughter.
I believe this is an example of how both parties can enjoy influencing even when only one of them has an agenda. To close the loop I wrote a personal note to both the CEO and my friend to tell them how much I had appreciated the time and effort they had taken to help me. Later on I also shared the draft of the chapters they had helped me with so that I could check that they were comfortable with the way I had interpreted the stories that they shared with me.
To find out more about how to influence people in a step by step, systematic manner please refer to the People Skills Revolution and People Skills Revolution Handbook which is published by and available from Global Professional Publishing
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