Whether it’s an overbearing superior or a catty co-worker, we’ve all encountered someone difficult at the office. But, your working relationships with sour people don’t have to be sour too, writes Bob Burg, co-author of the New York Times bestseller “The Go-Giver.” In his new book, “Adversaries into Allies,” Burg reveals how to cultivate positive, productive relationships at work–even when you’re surrounded by prickly colleagues. Have them eating out of your hand with these five tips.
Life dictates that sometimes people can be difficult to deal with. And, while you may be talented in many regards, unless you are able to influence the way others think and act, your chances for significant success are limited. Some of the most talented people in the world accomplish very average results because they have not mastered key people and influence skills. I call this achieving “Ultimate Influence:” the ability to get the results you want from others while making them feel genuinely good about themselves, the process and you. Here are five ways you can become an “Ultimate Influencer” in work and in life.
1. Think “pull,” not push
Influence is simply the ability to move a person to a desired action, usually within the context of a specific goal. However, it’s not about pushing others to that action. (That is, you don’t hear people say, “Wow, that Tom sure is influential–he has a lot of push.”) Actually, it’s more like gentle “pulling.” In other words, influence is an attraction. Truly successful individuals attract people, both to themselves and to their ideas.
2. Know that it’s always about them
In becoming an “Ultimate Influencer,” it is so important that you understand, embrace and keep this law of human nature at the top of your mind: All actions we as human beings take are based on self-interest. Are you planning to ask your boss for a raise? Telling her you are behind on your house payment and that you really need the money will probably not motivate her to agree. You’re much better served explaining that, based on past performance, you could help her come in significantly under budget on the next project. That, of course, would make her look great to her superiors when she is seeking her own raise.
3. Make others feel good
Feeling good about oneself is often the most powerful motivator of all. Difficult people, in particular, tend to have a poor self-image, so take a genuine, personal interest in them. Show more respect than they might typically receive and find out how to press their emotional hot buttons so that they’ll take the action you want them to take.
4. Communicate with tact
People are typically driven by their egos, so it’s imperative that you do not trample upon the egos of those you deal with. This is where tact–the language of strength–comes into play. Tact is a way of correcting, critiquing or teaching another person, but in a way that doesn’t put them on the defensive; you want him or her to remain open, not resistant to your ideas. Want to display tact? Think before you speak. Ask yourself how what you’re about to say is going to make the person feel. Identify and empathize with that feeling, then frame your question appropriately.
5. Always seek clarity
Say your project leader tells your team that, based on a client situation, he now needs a project completed “really soon.” You and your teammates might understand the term “really soon” very differently, which could make for an uncomfortable situation with your boss. To avoid confusion, you need to ask what he means. Instead of just saying, “What do you mean by ‘really soon’?”–which might put the project leader on the defensive–use the lead-in phrase, “Just for my own clarification,” then continue with, “Is there a specific date you’re thinking?” You’ve just taken what could be perceived as a question that challenges him to one that is framed in a non-threatening way.