Tactics of Influence: Head, Heart or Hands?

You and I spend much of our lives attempting to influence others, from encouraging a child to eat his brocolli to presenting an important recommendation to our bosses.  When was the last time you thought about the tactics you use to influence?  Can you identify your influence style and determine if it’s working?  Are you  fully aware of the tactics available to you?

If you are like most people, you use an influence style and the same tactics over and over.  You use influence tactics that have worked in the past or were modelled for you by mentors.  Chances are you could improve your results at influencing others if you examine and expand your tactics. 

According to a piece published by the Center for Creative Leadership (authors Baldwin and Grayson), there are three basic approaches to influencing others:  logic (head), emotions/values (heart) and collaboration (hands).  In this post, I’ll introduce each approach.  In following posts, I’ll delve into each influence tactic more fully, adding examples and fleshing things out with my own material.

Head.  When you rely on logic, you choose to influence or persuade others with a focus on the head.  In this style of  influence, you explain why your proposal is the best one, showing pros and cons.  You might also describe the benefits of your proposal to the person you are trying to persuade or to the organization to which you both belong.

Heart.  When you attempt to influence or persuade others by appealing to values or the vision of an organization, you use an emotional or heart approach.

Hands.  When you couch your persuasive efforts in consultation, listening to other viewpoints, providing resources, or removing obstacles for  others, you use a collaborating style of influence.  You can think of this as a “hands” approach.

I like this head, heart, and hands categorization because it’s simple and easy to remember.  As you communicate with others over the next few days, pay attention to which category you use to influence and persuade.  If you keep a log, you will be able to get an accurate picture of your influence habits and tactics.  Are you primarily a head, heart or hands influencer?  Do you use a mixed approach?

I’ll talk about effectiveness in upcoming posts.  For now, I welcome your comments!

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