Daily we negotiate our way through life, with family, friends and work colleagues. Our needs and wants are rarely identical to those we live and work with. Below we look at 7 ways, that don’t cost money, to gain cooperation and influence.
If you ‘take on’ assertive behaviour for real, instead of as a set of techniques and tricks, the concept of win: win will be at the heart of your interaction with people.
Reciprocity is one of the most successful and commonly used negotiation techniques, i.e. you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours (win: win). The value of reciprocity is that people feel obliged or want to return a helpful act.
The exchange doesn’t have to be of equal measure. If I consistently say thank you and make the tea for you, say at work, it doesn’t mean I can expect you to stay late to help me out. The weight of the exchange is in the eye of the receiver. Have you ever felt let down and disappointed by someone you have helped when it seems all you are asking for is a simple favour?
Equally what was for you a simple act of kindness can be weighted very favourably by the other person. I once shielded an extremely awkward and difficult manager from criticism and took much of it upon myself. I didn’t suffer very much from the criticism but the gratitude it earned from the manager was disproportionate to anything I had done for her.
My experience in tune with many others, leads me to believe that people are more likely to be influenced and convinced by someone they like or respect or trust. It is easier to influence people when you have prepared the ground long before you need their cooperation or agreement. It’s a matter of preparing the way, we would not expect a framer to have a bumper harvest at the end of the season if they had not planted and nurtured their crops throughout the year.
When you have a history of showing concern for another person, usually over lots and lots of small interactions, you build up a reservoir of good will and trust. I believe this is also true of new encounters where you can very quickly show that someone has value in your eyes.
Here are 7 relatively easy and certainly cost free ways to prepare the ground:
- Take time to get to know people
- Listen actively to what people are saying
- Build their trust by keeping your promises and doing what you say you’ll do
- Talk about things that matter to them
- Show respect, empathy and understanding
- Show your gratitude when they do something for you
- Keep looking for ways to help
In conclusion, being pleasant and respectful to people helps you to influence them. If you are liked there is scope for calling in favours. But there are limits to this. If you need to call in a favour more than occasionally, recognise the impact on the reservoir of goodwill you have built up. Too much of it, and you can become accused of exploiting the relationship.
A word of warning, assertive influence is not about getting people on your side by being overly helpful and friendly –always being “the nice guy.” Being popular is not the answer to everything – better to be respected than liked – by practising the 7 ways to win cooperation and influence you should be able to find the right balance. What do you think?