Do you use influence tactics as part of your personal power?
Read on to find out.
The answer may surprise you
How to influence others, and the influence tactics to use, is described on this page, along with influence definition and key influence processes. Influence really cannot be considered without including power. What is personal power? - the capacity to influence change.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, Lord Acton (1834 - 1902).
Using influence tactics with others is to exercise your personal power.
The saying above is one that most of us have heard before and many feel, intuitively, that it is true.
So, let’s check -
is deliberately using your personal power and influence tactics a bad or a good thing?
Am I saying that to be in control, create the future of your choice and achieve self improvement, you have to be, or become, corrupt?
No, I am NOT saying that, of course, as will become very clear as we explore what is involved in using influence tactics, starting with what does it mean?
How should we define influence tactics and power?
What I want you to think about though is the view that influence tactics and power (defined as:
* the ability to do something or act in a particular way
* the capacity to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events
* the capacity to affect the emotions or intellect strongly)
is inevitable in interactions between people.
Personal power, and the influence tactics involved, is everywhere and in all human relationships.
It does not belong exclusively to any one person - although some people may have significantly more influence than others.
It is not something that you have and others don’t, or vice versa.
So, in interactions with others, there is a balance of power going on (and the influence tactics are often changing as the interaction unfolds).
So, what I am saying is that it is inevitable and natural that you and others have, and use, personal power as part of how to influence others (and persuade others).
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Influence tactics and power are reciprocal - the balance is key.
Any interaction between you and others will involve a balance of initiative and influence which will ebb and flow through the interaction.
To be in control, to be an achiever and to boost your freedom, you need to choose to:
* respect others’ power and influence tactics (and ensure that it is not abused - e.g. by being used to manipulate you)
* respect your own ability to affect others and use it ethically to influence others
* avoid abusing your personal power (e.g. by using your influence to manipulate others).
In short, you have power, whether you want it or not - because others will usually accord it to you by assuming that you have some contribution to make.
If they experience this not to be true, or you abuse your influence, others may reduce your personal power by withholding their belief in it and their response to it.
Ok, so what personal power do you (and others) have for use in influence processes?
One view (based on the work of sociologists French and Raven) is that there are eight types of influence tactics and power available to you in any interaction with others (always a great opportunity to use your communication skills, of course - also, pay attention to body language as it reveals inner feelings).
Click here for a definition of communication.
In no order of priority, your 8 power bases are:
1. Legitimate influence tactics.
This personal power stems from the relative position, and duties of the holder of that position, as perceived by others.
For example, if you are a policeman or a priest or a manager, others will frequently accept your legitimate power as the formal authority delegated to you by the state or your church or your employer.
This can occur informally as well, of course - e.g. if you are at a party and the people there know that you are a policeman or a priest or a manager.
Or, your perceived position as a member of the community or the Golf Club or a sporting team or........will also cause others to see your power in certain ways.
2. Referent influence tactics.
Referent power comes from the standards you set for your own behaviour and the example that that creates for others to follow.
It comes strongly, for example, from your value system - e.g.:
* not lying to others
* not manipulating others
* being trusting and trustworthy
* not being corrupt
* keeping your promises.
Others will be attracted to these standards and values. They will be receptive to your initiative and influence / power.
They may want to identify with these personal qualities, and may gain satisfaction from being an accepted follower of yours.
3. Expert influence tactics.
This is derived from your skills or expertise - as demonstrated by you and as perceived by others.
For example, you may be a lawyer or motor mechanic and others will be influenced by you when they have needs in these areas and you speak (this may just be legitimate power, of course).
It will make you more powerful when you are known as the best lawyer or motor mechanic (or whatever) in the world.
4. Information influence tactics.
This stems from having the information or data that people want or need (even if they don’t know they need it).
To use it effectively, you will need to be well-informed, up-to-date and able to communicate the information confidently in language that others easily understand.
5. Reward influence tactics.
This means being able to give others benefits that have significance for them.
Such rewards may be material and extrinsic (e.g. money, toys, holidays, perks, gifts) or psychological or emotional and intrinsic (e.g. a thank you; a hug; sharing something; love; intimacy).
6. Coercive influence tactics.
In this case, you influence others by the use of personal power based on fear or threats or force.
It can take the form of physical violence (of varying degrees) or psychological or emotional violence (e.g. shouting, bullying, demeaning, insulting, humiliating, ignoring).
7. Connection influence tactics.
This means influence or initiative by proxy.
You may not have the power yourself in a situation, but your influence comes from being connected to someone who does.
For example, if you are a close personal or political friend of the Prime Minister, to others you will have (potentially) masses of connection power. Or, if you are P.A. to the Managing Director.
8. Veto influence tactics.
This is being able to stop something happening or to slow it down or disrupt it in some way.
Often this is perceived as negative (e.g. deliberate sabotage of others’ efforts), and sometimes this may be true.
Sometimes, however, this power is valid and should be used (e.g. to prevent illegal or unsafe acts).
So, what should we learn from the above?
* Which of these influence tactics would you say is AVAILABLE to you for use? And, which would you say you do not have available to you?
* In terms of using these influence processes in how to influence others, put them in rank order of effectiveness - which would work best do you think?, and which might not work very well.
Whatever your answers, why?
* Think of some opportunities, past, present or future, for you to use the types of power and influence tactics listed above and rehearse HOW you would do it.
* Practice identifying the different types of power being used by others and the effects they have on you (and others).
All of the types of influence tactics above can be abused, of course, as well as used.
In order to be in control, and an achiever, you must use your personal power wisely to achieve your goals without hurting anyone else.
* Raise your self awareness and practice matching your influence types to the situation and the others involved.
See them as eight tools in your influence tactics toolkit.
Just as you wouldn’t try using a hammer when a saw is needed, you wouldn’t, for example, use coercion when reward would be appropriate.
Which of the 8 power bases is the best?
Of the eight power types described above, whilst they all work (in the appropriate circumstances), four of them tend to be most effective in influencing people without creating negative effects.
These are the four that will yield the best benefits for you in terms of your self improvement and freedom.
Setting and delivering high personal standards, in terms of ethics and interpersonal values and behaviours, tends to create strong feelings of loyalty, respect and trust with others.
This builds powerful and often lasting relationships.
Develop your referent power by, for example:
* saying what you mean and meaning what you say
* not compromising on values
* being clear (inside yourself and with others) about non-negotiables for you
* not seeking popularity as a goal
* showing discipline and character by sticking to your values
* and being honest, when it is inconvenient, and showing respect for others.
Being competent and outstanding at what you do, and how you do it, tends to create high levels of respect and credibility with others.
Develop your expert power by, for example:
investing in yourself with an I.D.P (individual development plan).
This involves taking stock periodically of your skills and knowledge and planning to learn more (eg by studying, attending courses, gaining new experiences, taking part in projects, learning new skills; being a coach for someone else, learning from the internet).
When others learn that if they want to know what’s going on, or data about...X, or the latest knowledge about...Y, or the facts about ...Z, they should turn to YOU, your influence will be high and you will be in control.
Develop your information power by, for example:
* keeping up to date with the latest thinking
* reading high quality newspapers and other publications (both technical and general)
* encouraging others’ comments and asking many questions
* using positive learning in all situations
* thinking in terms of possibilities (rather than limitations)
* browsing the internet
* being a great listener and sharer.
This type of influence tactics is most effective in specific relevant situations, of course, and when used appropriately will build your credibility and (formal) leadership.
Develop your legitimate power by, for example:
* seeking opportunities to use the highest level of initiative
* operating from the possibilities mindset
* stretching your role to assist others
* researching the latest techniques in your field
* seeking feedback from others (and acting on it to improve your performance).
The use of coercive, connection and material (i.e. extrinsic) reward power will mean taking some, often high, risks with trust, respect and honesty in the longer run.
This may, or may not, be significant for you but the world can be an awfully small place at times and things may come back to haunt you.
A better option often is to use skillful conflict resolution techniques.
The other danger of these three types is that they can easily drift into corrupt practices and manipulation of others - very bad news.
Psychological and emotional (ie intrinsic) reward power rarely carries these risks and can be thought of as overlapping with referent influence tactics.
That is, for example, if you are rewarding others with genuine feedback and praise, and credit for their efforts, this will build respect and trust and loyalty.
Veto power that is used to sabotage others’ efforts will put you firmly in a negative role, of course.
Where veto is used to avoid negative situations (such as illegal or unsafe acts and outcomes), it puts you in a very powerful positive influence role.
Develop your veto influence by, for example:
* rehearsing how to say “no” constructively
* by using the, “there’s another way of doing that isn’t there?”, questioning approach
* learning how to generate more and new options
* not settling for the first answer or suggestion
* clarifying ends and means
* and by involving more people in the decision making process.
"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any" - Alice Walker.
If you would like more information and insights about this topic, please click here to purchase our ebook How to Be a Great Communicator (the Antidote to Destructive Conflict) from Smashwords (USD$5.99).
Your influence tactics and personal power exists, don't waste it or abuse it, use it to take initiative, boost your freedom and achieve self improvement.
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