The Key to Influence: Make your Voice Bigger


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Influence and Difficult People

The topic of how to influence difficult people, comes up in my work all the time. (At all levels.)

One of the most useful tools in the influence tool kit is to make your voice bigger.

What I mean by this is to never get into a situation where it’s your opinion vs. someone else’s opinion.

If you are only arguing with your own voice, your own idea, your own opinion, you are missing a source of power that can change the game entirely.

When you are in the situation where you know you are right and what you are recommending is really important, it can be very frustrating when no one is supporting you.

“Why should we listen to YOU?”

Many years ago, early in my career when I had a job as a product manager, I stumbled into a disagreement with the product development team.

One day I went to the group of product developers who were all sitting a room finishing a meeting and said,

“Do you have a minute to discuss the next product release? I wanted to let you know that we need to make a change to the user interface to say [a different thing], so that customers will not be confused anymore.”

In the grand scheme of things, this was a very small change in terms of scope, effort, and reason for controversy.

However, instead of the expected answer of, “OK”, I was confronted with,

“And who are you, that you think you can tell us what to put into the product?”

Sadly, my answer of “I’m the product manager,” held no weight with them.

They replied instead, “What makes you think you are smarter than we are?”

So my reply was this:

I do not think I am smarter than you are. I certainly hope I am not smarter than you are! Because we’re all counting on you to be brilliant.

But in my role as a product manager, it’s my job to talk to customers. In the past 6 weeks, I’ve talked to 75 customers and 71 of them pretty much insisted that we make this change to the UI, because it was causing so much confusion in their organizations.

What makes you think you are smarter than 71 paying customers?

They made the change.

What if the difficult person is your boss?

Sometimes the person blocking you is your boss. This can be really frustrating.

I have had a saying for a long time:

Never blame your failure on the fact that your boss is stupid

If your boss is blocking you, and your boss is wrong, don’t let your career get damaged by a their bad decision. But also remember that you don’t win against your boss.

If the disagreement is between just you and your boss, and you know in your heart that your career will suffer more if you agree with your boss than if you hold your ground, you need to find a way forward.

But going forward without the support of your boss and hoping they will come to appreciate what you did when it is finished, is a very risky strategy.

By employing the voices of others, you can create much more support for your idea and garner enough influence to help your boss to see the way forward.

Making your voice bigger

Never just use your own voice in an argument.

Find others to strengthen it.

It might be customers. It might be peers of the person. It might be others in the organization. It might be the assistant to the executive or the spouse!

I will tell you that I have employed all of these people at one time or another in my career to help make my voice bigger.

It’s not about being right personally. It’s about getting the right result.

And very often it requires a chorus of people to be saying something to create influence with a difficult person.

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my Facebook page Patty Azzarello Practical Business Advice for Humans.


About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Influence…Don’t be THAT guy


that guy

The biggest factor in influence

So many of my clients ask me about influence. They want to know how to better personally influence others or how to train their managers on influence and engagement.

The answer is simple but not easy.
The simple answer is to make people WANT to help you.

Don’t be THAT guy

Here is what I mean.

Think about when you are really busy and you are in your office working on something — and how there are some people who, when you see them coming, you are still glad to see them — even if they ask you to do something for them.

Then there are other times when you are really busy and you see someone coming, and you want to shut the lights out and hide under your desk.

If you want to have influence, make sure you are not that second guy.

What motivates influence?

Think about why you are motivated to help the first person:

The reason you don’t dread seeing the first person walk toward you is probably because the first person a friend, or is someone you know you can count on to help you, because they have shown you some generosity in the past. You actually want to help them. You are really busy but you don’t mind squeezing in the extra task for certain people.

Think about why you are not motivated to help the second person:

The reason you wish you could avoid seeing the second person is probably because they are not your friend, and they have not helped you in the past, and the only basis of your entire relationship is that this person asks you to do stuff.

Again – don’t be that guy.

The most important thing you can do to increase your influence is to expand your relationship with people beyond “the ask”.

Getting beyond “the Ask”

Think about the person in your work, right now, who you need to get information from, or cooperation from, and they are just not helping. Then think about your relationship with that person.

How much relationship do you have over and above your asking them for things?

If the answer is none, that is the problem. (And by the way, you are THAT guy.)

If you need to influence someone, think first about being generous to them. Take the time to get to know them. Understand their schedule and their pressures, so that you can ask at the right time. Offer to help them. Learn about their background, learn about their goals. Learn about their family or their hobbies. Give them something of value.

Become the person that they look forward to see coming into their office.

Build your extra team

The most successful people have the most people helping them.

You should always be putting effort into building a team of people around you that is motivated to help you. I see this with all successful people. They always seem to have an army of supporters, whether or not those people work for them.

The way to do this is to make time for networking and to think about being generous and helpful to people around you. You are not the only one who is really busy.

Remeber, your tasks (that are so important to you) are not as personally important to others.

The way to influence people to care about your tasks, is to first get them to care about YOU. And you do that by first caring about them.

Some people react to this idea as being political and therefore a bad thing because you are giving only to get something in return.

I prefer to think of this simply as being generous because it’s a good and right thing to do. And it’s quite fundamentally, a positive and necessary element of being effective in your job.

Here are specific, practical ideas to build your extra team.

Invest before you need anything

If want to have more influence, you need to put in the effort to build a network ahead of time.

It’s important to build a relationship before you try to use a relationship.

How will you expand that relationship beyond “the ask”?

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my Facebook page.

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ABOUT PATTY:

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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

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Communicating for Action



This month’s Professional Development webinar was on the topic of Communicating for Action.

If you missed it you can download the recording.

Members of Azzarello group can download this webinar for free.

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Are you getting through?

One of the biggest mistakes I see people (at all levels) make, is to think that the things they know and think are really important — others also already know and already think are important — then they get frustrated when there is no action.

“Why aren’t people doing what they should be doing? They know this is important.” Hint: No, they don’t. Or they don’t believe that you are serious. Or they don’t know if they are allowed to act differently.

We all have a tendency to take for granted the things we already know.

If you don’t make a concerted effort to communicate with others — employees, bosses, and stakeholders — in a persuasive way — and you don’t make it very clear what actions are expected — your communications will go un-acted on.

Nobody cares

A useful frame of mind when you start to prepare your communications is to think that your audience isn’t motivated to listen, they don’t personally care, they don’t believe you, and they don’t trust you.

It’s probably not that bad! But if you start with that as your premise, you are going to plan much more persuasive and effective communications.

If you go in thinking that they should already care and believe what you are saying is important, you will get much less action.

This is a very useful webinar to download if you need to:

  • Lead a team that to do something new or different
  • Secure resources or sponsorship for project
  • Increase your influence in general
  • Improve your confidence and persuasiveness with executives
  • Keep an organization highly motivated throughout a long project
  • Regularly communicate with multiple, diverse audiences

In this webinar: Communicating for Action I share the practical techniques I have to plan and deliver high impact communications that drive action with multiple audiences.

Members of Azzarello group can download this webinar for free.

If you are not a member, you can learn about membership or Join Now.

Join Now

What the webinar covered:

In this webinar we covered many practical approaches for creating and delivering the kind of high value communications that motivate people to take action.

Consistency and Timelines

It’s important to create the right context, enough transparency, and build a clear business case.

It’s also important to do the extra work to translate your communications for each audience you communicate with. If that means you have to create 8 different communication strategies, then create 8 different communication strategies. It will save you time in the long run.

Creating Conversation and Support

It is vital to not only broadcast your communications, but to involve your audience in the communicating.

Don’t be the only one talking. The only way to determine if your communications have gotten through is if your audience is talking about your message amongst themselves.

The webinar covered several techniques to get your message to spread organically throughout your organization.

Engaging Stakeholders

It’s alwo important to make your stakeholders feel like they are not alone in supporting you.

You have the most influence when you have the most support — when it’s not only your voice doing the communicating.

Invest the effort into building widespread support both from your team and your stakeholders.

Building Action in Up Front

Another way to make sure you get action, is to build the expected action right into the beginning of your conversations.

We talked about how to give your sponsors a job up front, and also how to create action oriented communications with your team from the beginning.

If you want action, spell it out. Don’t make people guess. By creating the right expectations and measures as part of your communication, everyone can see where you are going and can understand how to implement their piece of it.

To learn the specific ideas and techniques, we talked about, and get the worksheets to help you, download the webinar: Communicating for Action, now.

Members: Download the webinar for free.
Non Members: You can purchase this individual webinar or podcast (links below).

Here are some additional, useful webinars related to this topic

Members get these additional webinars for free:

So if you are not yet a member, you might as well join and get them all for free!

Let me be your mentor

Members of Azzarello Group basically get me as their mentor.

Every month you get new insights and tools in the form of these webinars, as well as the chance to call into a monthly members-only coaching hour where you can get direct personal coaching from me.

People tell me that membership gives them a totally new way of thinking about their career, getting promotions, solving difficult problems with bosses, peers, employees, and other annoying people, communicating better, being more influential, becoming a stronger leader, and enjoying their work more. I love to hear this, and I love to help!

If you join now, you’ll not only get this webinar, but all the other webinars in the Member Library.

AND you’ll get the opportunity to participate in monthly Coaching Hour conference calls with me.
Check out what we talk about.

AND as a member you’ll get to download your copy of the Career Year of action Guide (a $30 value) for free.

Membership is a great resource (and a steal at $179 for a whole year) to help you advance your career.

Join Now

Other Options:

Purchase just this webinar ($19.99)
Purchase just this podcast ($9.99)


ABOUT PATTY:

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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

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Free eBook Download

Social Media ROI for Business (and Careers)



This month’s webinar was on the topic of Social Media ROI.

If you missed it, you can download the recording.

Social Media ROI

In this webinar I the opportunity to interview Erik Qualman, who is has a remarkable background.

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Erik Qualman (Equalman online) is an MBA Professor at the Hult International Business School. For the past 16 years he has helped grow the digital capabilities of many companies including Cadillac, EarthLink, EF Education, Yahoo, Travelzoo and AT&T. He is a columnist for ClickZ, and he owns the social media blog – Socialnomics.com and is a best selling author.

I had the chance to talk with Erik about the role that social media plays in growing business and customer loyalty — and careers.

This is a very useful webinar to download if you want to:

  • Understand how using social platforms can help your business
  • How to make the right choices about risk and privacy
  • Hear examples from companies who really get this right (and mistakes too)
  • Learn to build brand value and employee engagement in a consistent way
  • Understand how social media is affecting careers (good and bad)

What are you hiding?

Many companies are concerned about opening up their virtual doors to allow the use of social media, because they are uncomfortable putting their brand directly in the hands of their employees.

The traditional thinking is that Marketing should own all official company communication, so they can filter everything and keep it consistent and safe.

Erik’s question is, “What are you hiding?” I thought this was pretty profound.

The focus of the social media question is not actually about the”social media” .

The real focus is: Are all your employees aligned and motivated to represent the company and its mission the same way?

That’s the real question! That question has been true and important long before social media was an option. The strongest and most successful companies invest effort getting everyone on board and aligned, and keeping them motivated.

A mentor of mine taught me long ago that happy employees will make happy customers.

If you knew that all of your employees had a shared view of your mission and were motivated to be at your company and share that vision with the world, why would’t you want them communicating?

I see this all the time in the work that I do with companies, getting this inside piece right — helping everyone get on board and moving in the same direction. This on its own has tremendous value.

And if you can achieve this type of alignment and motivation in your employee base, and then let them tell their friends, wouldn’t that be good for your brand?

Social Media is not 100% good

People always ask me questions about privacy and appropriateness, when they think about social media. It makes many people uncomfortable.

I was happy to get the chance to ask Erik about this.

His point of view was very practical:

Yes, there are some bad elements and risks to deal with, but the good far outweights the bad — AND it’s where the vast majority of the conversation is happening. Give it a try when you reach the point when you are feeling left out.

Career & Credibility

Erik also had some interesting insights about how companies are using candidates’ social media influence to make hiring choices.

If you are an unknown on the internet, your career capital may be diminishing as more companies look to understand the reach you have.

Erik talked about ways to think about and prepare your online presence.

Practical!

Erik told some great stories about how the conversations and the opportunities are happening online.

This was a great, common-sense discussion about how companies can build customer loyalty, brand power and employee motivation THEN use social communication platforms to share that excellence with the world.

I really appreciated his practical point of view. If you missed it, you can download the recording below.

eric books
Erik Qualman is listed as a top 50 MBA Professor and has worked with many of the top companies in the world, like Zappos, Starbucks and Sony. He has also written 3 books which are top sellers in 9 countries, including “Socialnomics”, and his latest “What happens in Vegas stays on YouTube”. Erik also has one of 2010′s most viral videos on YouTube:“Social Media Revolution”.

Erik is sought after world wide as a speaker on the topic of Social Media and Business and has been highlighted in numerous media outlets including: BusinessWeek, The New York Times, WSJ, Mashable, USA Today, Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, CBS Nightly News, and The Huffington Post.

Get the webinar now

Member Free Download

If you are a member of Azzarello Group, you can download the podcast for free.

Or Purchase

If you are not a member, you can: purchase this podcast,

or you can become a member and get the webinar for free..

If you are tempted to purchase this podcast, that’s great.

But you might want to consider getting a membership to Azzarello Group — it’s a much better deal.

With a membership, you can get access to everything in the member library for a whole year for just $179.

BECOME A MEMBER NOW

As a member, just around this topic about influence, you can also get additional podcasts and webinars for free on:

So you might as well join and get them all for free!

Additional benefits for members

Additional Q&A

Since this webinar was a special interview, there is no presentation and worksheet package. But members do have access to the live Q&A recording which followed the webinar on the topics of:

  • Developing a strong voice online
  • What companies and people get right and wrong using social media
  • How to develop your brand alongside your company’s brand
  • Broadcasting vs. conversation
  • and more…

Take a look through the Member Library and see all the other great webinars and resources you get too.

Plus, as a member, you get live coaching from me in monthly Coaching Hour conference calls where you can ask your own questions.

Become a Member

BECOME A MEMBER NOW
Membership a great resource (and a steal at $179 for a whole year) to help you advance your career.

Other Options:
Purchase just this podcast ($9.99)


ABOUT PATTY:

patty blog image
Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

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Free eBook Download

Guilty? or just Incompetent?


guilty or incompetent

What do you think when people fail to support you, or seem to actively put obstacles in your way, or fail to deliver what they said they would?

Do you get frustrated and angry? Or Are you curious about what went wrong?

Your assumptions drive outcomes

Your assumptions about someone’s guilt or innocence drive your reactions, your behaviors, and more importantly, the outcomes you get.

For example:  If your spouse gets home really late without calling:

  • If you presume innocence: You might worry that they are dead on the side of the road, and be hugely relieved and super-nice to them when they return.
  • If you presume guilt: You might think they are lying and cheating, and throw their clothes out on the lawn and lock the door.

What will you do?

How useful will your rage and accusations be if they got a flat tire and their cell phone battery died?

This type of mis-understanding happens all the time in business.

When someone makes a decision that harms you, or they seem to be ignoring you, or they back out on a commitment, there is a tendency to assume the worst – They did it on purpose with full knowledge that it is bad for you. Guilty!

I reconstructed the table below from something I saw many years ago.

It’s a good way to think about how different your reaction might be if you presume innocence instead of guilt.

If they are not acting against you on purpose, if they are just incompetent, your action plan will be very different (and a lot less trouble) than if you assume they were out to get you.

Assuming Guilt is not productive

The punch line here is that presuming guilt is always less productive than presuming innocence. Presuming innocence always focuses you on an action plan to move forward.

Presuming guilt focuses you on negative, defensive thoughts (and maybe revenge).
It rarely focuses your thoughts and actions on getting the positive outcome.

presume innocent matrix

Why not Presume Innocence First?

Get some data.

Find out what really happened before you jump to the conclusion that the person is an evil mastermind, plotting against you, on purpose, with great skill and precision.

For example:

If a colleague promised to give you some help on something that was vitally important to you, and then failed to do so:

If you think they are Guilty and Competent…

(EVIL GENIUS)
You might believe that they knew exactly what they were doing, and chose to leave you hanging. They lied. You might think that they are setting you up to fail, to ruin your reputation, or keep you from succeeding or advancing.

You might get angry because you assume they did you wrong on purpose.

You might confront them, or pick a fight. You might try to find a way to get back at them, or harm their reputation.

But what if you were wrong?…

What if they are Innocent — and Competent?

(EAGLE SCOUT)
If you start with the presumption that they are innocent, you might think:

1. This is a person I want to keep on my team
2. There must be a good reason they didn’t they do what they said they would do.

If you presumed innocence you would naturally want to find out what happened and why.

What do they know that you don’t? What changed since the agreement?

You might learn that there was an important reason they didn’t do what was expected, and that they are still planning to help you.  Or they did do it, but it got blocked somewhere before it reached you.  Or someone down the line changed it, or gave you the wrong information about what happened.

Good Outcome:

With the knowledge that this is a competent person with good intentions, you can still get what you need, because you didn’t piss them off with your “guilty”-fueled reaction.

You preserved the relationship by being respectful and focused on the facts and the outcome. You might have even learned something about how the overall system works, so you can avoid this happening again.

What if they are just Incompetent?

(NICE BUT USELESS)
Did they try? What got in the way? 

They might be overwhelmed with other things. Or they didn’t realize what the true measure of success or quality was. They did their best but messed something up. Perhaps the task was simply beyond them.

You might offer some assistance to them. Help them help you. You could give them another chance. You might still get what you need.

Or with the facts, you might both decide that after all, that as much as they’d like to help, they actually don’t have the capability to help you.  So you move on, you move forward.

It turns out they were not out to get you. So at least you have not wrongly accused someone of malicious intent and burned a bridge.

Get the facts before you react

In my experience, you always get a better outcome if you presume Innocence first.  And you most definitely get a better outcome if you get the facts about why things happened the way they did before you make any judgment, about someone’s Guilt, Innocence or Competence.

If you presume innocence first, you are more likely to be able to get the facts because you won’t be putting people off, or making them defensive in the process.  Then you’ll have real data to work from.

But what if they ARE Guilty?

(EVIL GENUIS)
OK, so what if the are really out to get you?

If after you get the facts, you discover they are indeed Guilty — they really don’t support you, they are ignoring you on purpose, they are out to sabotage your career, make you look bad, or throw you under the bus — by all means, confront it and deal with it.

But by presuming innocence first, you’ll have more real facts to deal with that too.

Even in the case of true sabotage, assuming innocence first will give you more facts and more power to fight for what is right.

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.

Was this useful?

If you found this article useful, please help me share it with others and encourage them to subscribe to this Blog for free.


About Patty
patty blog image crop

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

Rise_CVR_3D_300

Free eBook Download