The expression, “He can sell ice to Eskimos”, doesn’t always apply to salespeople. It can be applied to anyone who is well… persuasive. On second thought, is the expression selling ice to Eskimos supposed to be persuasive or is it meant to be influential? Or are they the same thing?

You might very well be able to persuade someone but, are you actually earning a sincere buy- in? Not really. Influence, on the other hand, is based on that foundation of trust and credibility.

Think about being influential as part of your employee toolkit. No matter what position you hold, you are likely going to spend time trying to get others on your team or department to do something, or share information or resources, so being influential can be a very advantageous skill to have.

In some situations where having authority over people can be problematic, using influence rather than coerce cooperation is beneficial for it to be a WIN-WIN. This is why it’s so useful to learn how to influence others without using authority.

The Influence Model, also known as the Cohen-Bradford Influence Model, was created by Allan R. Cohen and David L. Bradford, originally published in their 2005 book, “Influence Without Authority.”The Influence Model can be an effective tool in situations such as the following:

• The other person is known to be resistant.You don’t know the other person (or group) and are asking for something that might be costly to them.

 • You have a poor relationship (or are part of a group that has a poor relationship) with the group the other person belongs to.

• You might not get another chance.

• You have tried everything you can think of but the other person still refuses what you want.

The Influence model has six steps. These are:

  1. Assume that everyone can help you
  2. Prioritize objectives
  3. Understand the other person’s situation
  4. Identify what matters; to you and to them
  5. Analyze the relationship
  6. Make the “exchange.”

So let’s see this in action: Matt is implementing a new system that will eliminate several unneeded steps. However, he needs help from his colleague. Roger has exactly the expertise Matt needs to solve a problem with the system.

Roger of course, is busy with his own projects, and  although they know each other, Roger has so far been unwilling to help. Let’s see what that influence Model, looks like:

1. Assume That Everyone Can Help You

The only reason that Roger is unwilling to help is because he’s “snowed under” with his own projects, most of which have tight deadlines.

2. Prioritize Objectives

Matt takes a moment to think about why he needs to influence Roger? It’s because Roger has the expertise Matt needs to overcome a problem he’s stuck with. His goal is to gain Roger’s help, perhaps for half a day, to solve the problem.

3. Understand the Other Person’s Situation

Matt knows that Roger’s department is deadline driven and that Roger is often under immense pressure to troubleshoot problems as they come up, but also to deliver major projects that have quick turnaround times.

4. Identify What Matters; to you and to Them

Roger could use help to help him complete some of his current projects. If Roger could catch up, he’d probably be willing to help Matt with his own project.

5. Analyze the Relationship

Matt is on good terms with Roger.

6. Make the “Exchange”

Matt decides he will offer Roger full day of his own time to help him catch on his projects. In return, he’ll ask for half a day of Roger’s time to help him with his own project.

Roger is surprised at Matt’s offer, but accepts immediately. Matt shows his appreciation by showing up early on his day to help Roger. When the time comes for Roger to help Matt, the same holds true: Roger shows up early, and the two get the problem figured out by lunchtime. Matt then takes Roger out for lunch to show his gratitude.

The key to effective persuasion and influence is transparency and honesty because when trust is present, influence increases and persuasion is positive. Being influential, is more than just saying the right thing, it’s about who you are and everything about you.

I invite you to share your failures, mistakes, experiences, thoughts, or comments. You can email or call me for more information on soft and interpersonal skills workshops that can transform employees.