Apr 04 2013
A guide to influencing styles and when to use them

There are several different influencing styles. You are likely to have a preferred style.

However, a particular influencing challenge may demand a particular style. You need to be flexible - use the right style for the situation.

Influencing styles

1. Forceful
People who prefer a forceful style tend to be dominant, or aspirationally so (they will often be ‘shapers' in the Belbin team types). This style can be useful in emergencies, and where you need simply to gain compliance (eg health and safety). However, it is less effective long term in winning hearts and minds.

2. Charismatic
Charismatic people tend to be good communicators and natural leaders, they create a buzz about them, and others are keen to please them. They need to ensure that they have really taken people with them, and that the influence sticks, even when they are not around.

3. Negotiating
Negotiators like the give and take of bargaining, and feel a compromise is a fair outcome. Compromise can be useful when goals are not clear - however, equally, negotiators need to ensure that they don't compromise their principles and/or get outmaneuvered by opportunists.

4. Procedural
The safety zone for procedural influencers is to know exactly where they are, and to feel confident that there is some order to things (trade union negotiators can often be procedural influencers). However, sometimes influencing requires a leap in the dark - thinking outside the box to find unlikely solutions.

5. Assertive
Assertive influencers will be assertive about their needs and their objectives, and will state them with as little fudge and flim flam as possible. They can sometimes seem a little blunt.

6. Facilitative (acting as chair or facilitator)
Facilitative influencers will ensure they get the rhythms and environment right, they will often take a position that is ‘above the fray'. Need to be careful that their own position is not overlooked. This style is particularly effective when the facilitator uses the ‘chair' role to synthesise and propose a way forward.

7. Accommodating
The accommodator makes everyone feel good. Can be useful when it is important to signal unselfishness to those you wish to get on-side. This is often a good role to have as part of a team of influencers. However, the accommodator can often miss opportunities to influence, by holding back his/her own views.

8. Reflective/cautious
The good side of the reflector is that he/she does not make hasty decisions and will often get intelligent, workable solutions to problems. However, their insistence on naming the problem can be seen as negative, and they can sometimes be perceived as lacking courage.

9. Collaborative
This approach is very valuable when you need long term, healthy relationships to reach well defined long term aims. It is democratic and when used well will bring out the best in others. However, it can be very time consuming and it assumes that everyone is equally committed to a partnership of equals and will take their fair share of responsibility.

Using different influencing styles

First, look at the ‘problem' from your client's point of view and then decide which influencing style to use. Some of the styles are ‘push' style, others are ‘pull' styles:

‘Push' styles - good gaining compliance

‘Pull' styles - good for winning hearts and minds
Collaborative and problem solving

Other style:

As well as being push/pull, styles also require more or less involvement from the other party (those that require most mutual involvement are facilitative, accommodating, negotiating, collaborative).

You need to use the right influencing style, to suit the influencing challenge.

Find out more

Our Influencing skills course is for anyone who needs to influence others. This may be influencing as part of a leadership role, or influencing where you are in a partnership, project group or other setting (such as campaigning or negotiating) where you need to persuade others.

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