How to influence people and win them over

These days, success at work is more and more dependent on your ability to influence the people around you. As discussed in a previous blog post on mindsets, you can’t force, persuade, bully or instruct someone into changing their mindset. You have to communicate with them in a way to which they will respond positively. And everyone is wired differently.

In this post we explore four types of people ‘wiring’ – see if you can recognise yourself and the people you know and work with!

How to win people over

Your success at work hinges increasingly on your ability to win round the people you work with to your way of thinking. Organisations have flattened out and moved away from the old ‘command and control’ type structure, and people brought up and educated more flexibly are more sophisticated about how they want to be treated. There are fewer occasions when it’s appropriate to ‘give orders’. To influence and lead people successfully, you need to recognise how they are wired and tailor your message to them in a way to which they will respond.

There are four main types of people ‘wiring’:

1. Towards vs. Away From

Some people are wired to be Towards people – they move towards goals, they know what they want and create their own motivation to go and get it. They talk about what they want. To influence them you need to clearly present the positive benefits to them of following your proposed course of action.

An Away From Person notices problems and difficulties. They are invaluable for spotting problems and pitfalls in advance. Away From people often mention situations to be avoided. To influence them, stress the pain that they will be able to avoid by following your suggestions.

2. Internal vs. External

An Internally-Referenced person knows instinctively if they have done a good job. They set their own standards. They may have difficulty in accepting praise or feedback. To influence this type of person, focus on the internal satisfaction they will experience by following your plan.

An Externally-Referenced person relies on other people to set standards. They need other people or external sources of information to decide or judge for them. They need to compare their work to an external norm or standard. Feedback is important to them. To influence this type of person, stress the admiration and respect they will get from others from implementing your proposed plan.

3. Procedures vs. Options

Procedures people are most comfortable following a well tried procedure. They enjoy doing a task the ‘correct’ way and may be at a loss if they encounter difficulties. To influence them, remember to show them a step-by-step plan.

Options people like to have choices and develop alternatives. They tend to be good ideas people and dislike being constrained by rigid procedures. They like to keep their options open for as long as possible. Your plan will more likely win them over if it includes some options left open for them to decide.

4. Big Picture vs. Detail

Big Picture people are good strategic thinkers and planners. They often talk in generalities and are more interested in total concepts than the detail of ‘how’ a task gets done. To influence them, just give them the overview.

Detail people are most comfortable working with small chunks of information. They can take a global plan and chunk it down into small and achievable steps. They may talk and work more sequentially and tend to be very accurate and precise. Give them the details.

More and more of our work at Leaders Lab is about training and coaching people in the skills they need to influence others. Just think: how could you benefit by being able skilfully to influence your peers, your team, your boss, your suppliers or your customers?

Want to positively influence those around you?

We can help you plan out a strategy