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Influencing Skills Homework
 

This "homework" will help you think about influencing and prepare for a course. I give below some suggestions. These will help you think about your situation and style before the course. Please discuss your conclusions before the course with your colleagues if you want to. I would be pleased to hear from you too.

Some assumptions

I want everyone involved in influencing to feel good about the outcomes and the way they were reached. If the people you are trying to influence feel bad about either, then it will be more difficult to influence them next time. This approach is "win/win". Negotiation may be necessary if a pure "win/win" is not possible. Negotiation can be less satisfactory as it results in some "lose/lose" as the each party settles for less than their ideal position. People do use their power to exploit the others weak position and create a "win/lose" situation. The losers usually feel aggrieved and will retaliate when they can. This course will concentrate on influencing skills to achieve "win/win".

Exercises to help you think about you.

You can write the answers down or talk over the questions with a colleague or friend. If you have the time, you may get more by talking first and then writing a few notes.

  1. Think about a time when someone influenced you.

    What did that person do that got you to say "Yes", and act with commitment?

    How did you feel when you were together?

    What three words or phrases would you use to describe the interaction?

  2. Think about a time when you influenced someone (or a group).

    What did you do that got her/him (or the group) to say "Yes" and act with commitment?

    How did you feel when you were together?

    What three words or phrases would you use to describe the interaction?

  3. Think about some people that you work well with.

    What do you have in common?

    What style do they use? (Business like, enthusiastic, sociable, cautious etc.).

  4. Think about your own style. (Business like, enthusiastic, sociable, cautious etc.).

    How would you describe it? Use three or four words, if you like.

    How would your colleagues describe it?

    How can you build a relationship with people who use a different style?

  5. Think about what is important to you at work.

What do you do everyday at work?

What do you do that you enjoy at work? Why do you enjoy it?

Given the above, what is most important to you at work? (E.g. Achievement, learning, recognition, being liked, avoiding conflict, having fun, being with nice people etc.)

What is important to the people you want to influence?

Comments

These questions will help you think about the people you want to influence. They are unique people with their own preferences. You may have discovered something about your own preferences and needs too. Influencing requires us to adjust our behaviour to build an effective relationship with other people.

Exercises to help you think about influencing other people.

The questions will help you think about the important people, groups or issues you want to influence. The framework focuses on building relationships. This is the core issue, when you have an effective relationship understanding people’s needs and developing positive proposals is easy.

I have listed some questions for you to think about, as before. There are tables in the note to organise your answers. We will use a circular version on the course. The homework will help with this too.

Think about your situation and potential clients.

This is the "Open Systems Planning" model we will use on the course.

  1. What individuals, groups or systems do you most want to influence in the next year? Choose no more than ten to avoid overload.
  2. What three or four words would you use to describe the relationship you have with each of these? If you like to think in pictures, add a stick-person picture to each. You may find it helps to talk to a colleague to clarify your answer. These are difficult things to think about.
  3. How do you feel about the relationships you have with each of them? Feelings are visceral. Frustrated, exhausted, scared, happy, excited and content are feelings. When we say, "I feel that (say) service is slow" this is a thought. The underlying feeling could be anger or sadness. When you answer this question, please consider your underlying feelings. This will give you more energy to act.

When you have done the above, record your conclusions in a table like that overleaf.

I give below hypothetical examples for illustration. The person is a Dean of Computer studies with special responsibility for mature students. Not one of you, I trust.

The situation NOW

Influence Q1

Relationship Q2

Feelings Q3

Administration

Friendly but uninvolved

Frustrated

Mature students

Remote

Sad and angry

XYZ university

Close good co-operation

Proud and satisfied

Top management

Developing but slowly.

Slightly frustrated

Course design

Complicated lots of people involved.

Excited and anxious

You may wish to use more space to extend your entries.

Think about how you would like thing to be in (say) a year’s time.

  1. What individuals, groups or systems do you most want to have influenced in the next year? These may be the same as the ones above. If you choose different ones, go back and thing about their present state and add them to the NOW table. Choose no more than ten to avoid overload.
  2. What three or four words would you use to describe the relationship you would like to have with each of these? If you like to think in pictures, add a stick-person picture to each. You may find it helps to talk to a colleague to clarify your answer. These are difficult things to think about.
  3. How would you like to feel about the relationships you have with each of them? Remember that feelings are visceral like happy, cross or content. Avoid "feel that", if you can.

You can record you answers in a FUTURE table, as below. The contrasts between the tables will help you think about how to bring about the change.

The situation in the FUTURE

Influence Q1

Relationship Q2

Feelings Q3

Administration

Friendly working together

Satisfied

Mature students

Growing and co-operative

Relieved

XYZ university

Close good co-operation

Proud and satisfied

Top management

Developing effectively

Content

Course design

Lots of people working as a team.

Excited and competent

You may wish to use more space to extend your entries.

Think about how to make progress.

What do you need to do to move one of your issues from its state NOW to its state in your desired FUTURE? One possibility is to talk with the other party or parties. 

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