There is no shortage of influence opportunities. You are limited only by time, energy, or expectations. These opportunities come in many forms. Sometimes they occur during formal or informal meetings. Sometimes they arise spontaneously over a meal or around the copier. For example, someone you would like to influence may offer you opportunities such as:
We frequently ignore these opportunities - sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for bad reasons.
Some good reasons to turn down an opportunity to influence include:
Some bad reasons to ignore an influence opportunity include:
In my family and in my company, when an issue is in contention, it is understood by everyone that the person who cares the most about something generally gets to have it his or her way - and also must shoulder the responsibility for making it happen. Influence success often carries the burden of having your name on a lot of the items on the action list - and all over the outcome. So the choice of whether or how intensely to influence about something is always tempered by how important it is to you and by how much of your resources you're willing to spend on it. That, it seems to me, is how it should be - and it gives each of us a strong motivation to succeed, if only to prove that we were right. Even the ornery side of human nature can be put to good use.
Sometimes the right influence opportunities don't present themselves, and you have to create them. The person you need to influence may not appear at the lunch table. The issue may not arise in casual conversation. Something that is of great importance to you may not be on anyone else's screen right now. Here are some ways to create those opportunities:
The experience of managing influence situations may be a new one for you. It will require you to be thoughtful and tactical in the way you initiate and respond. In Part II of this book you will learn how to plan and prepare for an important influence situation. Still, much of the influencing you do will be in response to the kind of opportunities that suddenly present themselves or that you are able to create in the moment. Consider the suggestions in the following paragraph. Use them as you go about your life over the next few days. See what you can learn about influencing through some low-key experimentation. You will probably not change the world right away, but you will probably not start World War III either.
As opportunities arise, or as you can create them:
"I'd like to be assigned to that task force."
"I'd like to get your ideas about how I might have more input on the project scope."
"If you can help me get the house ready, I'll be able to drive you to the mall in time to meet your friends."
"So you weren't aware that I was expecting to be involved in the decision?"
"What do you think about it?" or "How does that strike you?"
"I can see that this isn't a good time for you to talk about this. How about if I call you early next week to set up a meeting?"
These are some ways to get started on the path of becoming conscious, tactical, and successful as an influencer. You will continue to learn through reading, observation, conscious practice and rehearsal, feedback, experimentation, and reflection. As with any fitness program, there is no graduation (but there are continuing opportunities to test yourself).