“Misunderstandings don’t exist - only the failure to communicate.”
Asian proverb

"A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that getting results is all there is to the job. Great leaders find a balance between getting results and how they get them."
Andy Pearson

This book is about influence – the process by which one person gets another to do something – which is becoming increasingly important in the new structures and relationships of today’s organisations. We would all like more influence. We would all like a greater range of skills to influence people and situations that are crucial to our success. We need to be able to get what we want and need in order to satisfy our own work and personal goals.

As the business environment changes we have to get quicker results and get things done through others. We have to get commitment for projects and deadlines for which we are responsible. We need to get the agreement and cooperation of people who do not work directly for us, but whose outputs are critical to our success. Matrix and project based organisation structures distort working relationships. We often find we do not have the authority to get things done.

But just getting things done is not enough. Today’s workforce does not respond positively to anything that is remotely autocratic or authoritarian in style. So even where you do have authority to tell people what to do, you cannot use it without regard to the longer term impact. And in situations where you do not have authority, you cannot afford to upset the other parties, as you will need their continued cooperation on this or future projects. So, you need to develop skills which will not only get what you want, but also build or at least maintain a positive working relationship with the other parties. You need to develop positive influencing skills that have the effect that people do things because they “want to” rather than because they “have to.”

The research base for this book covers over 30 years of experience of working with influencing and interpersonal skills in over 35 countries and with people from more than 80 countries. It also builds on the workshop designs and training courses run by myself and a number of partners and consultants, which have culminated in the Getting Results Without Authority course. It is, therefore, a very practical book that will help you to work effectively in today’s environment; to be more successful in getting the results you need from your interpersonal relationships. It will give you the tools to analyse work situations to make sure that you do not focus too much on the task objective and put the long term relationship at risk, or spend too much effort on ensuring a good relationship and not achieving the task. It will help you to define when to be flexible and when to be firm. And it will outline the different styles that you can adopt to be able to deal with the different situations and people that you need to influence.

The main theme of this book is to improve interpersonal communications, especially in business. No-one consciously takes on a new project with the intention of sabotaging it, and no-one deliberately sets out to put barriers in their route to success. Yet our presentations don’t succeed, our partners get upset and hold grudges against us, and relationships worsen rather than improve when we try to intervene. This book is about understanding why this happens and gives you the skills to get a different result.

The book has been written for people in organisations at any level – anyone who needs to get results in situations where they do not have the positional power of authority – including project managers, project team members, those working in matrix organisations, technical staff, internal consultants, and professional staff. Anyone who does have a position of authority, but does not want to use that authority to tell people what to do, will find the approach used in the book of value.

It is equally applicable to people who want to influence action in the community or in social environments, and, although not expressly included in the examples and content, it does of course apply to personal relationships. It is a practical tool to help people in all walks of life to become more successful in influencing others, getting their message across, building relationships and achieving their goals.
Each chapter contains a number of simple practice exercises to help develop underused or undervalued skills, and to assist observation and understanding of the environment in which you operate. As well as the development exercises, there are examples and case studies taken from real life situations throughout the book which will help you to transfer the learning to your situation.

The book is divided into three parts:

Part 1 – The Influence Arena analyses the working environment of the early 21st century and the growing need for the use of positive influence skills.
The first two chapters set the scene, analysing the current working environment and the impact this has on the way we need to interact with each other. They look at the particular problems that are caused by matrix and project structures and how we need to develop our personal sources of power.
Chapter 4 introduces a four style model for analysing effective influence behaviour, the impact of each style, and how to recognise the styles in yourself and others. A self-analysis questionnaire is included to help determine your own preferences and their implications.
Chapter 5 takes a look behind the scenes at what is going on in our heads, often sub-consciously. Our emotions and feelings have a massive impact on the effectiveness of our communication, and this chapter goes some way to helping you understand how and why, as well as giving some practical tips in how to deal with situations where we get triggered into an unhelpful response.

Part 2 – Developing the styles is a series of four chapters on the influence styles that you need to be successful in that working environment.
Chapter 6 introduces Part 2 with some navigation tips to the chapters that follow which provide in depth knowledge of the four styles, with each having some more development exercises to help improve both your skill and your comfort with using each style.
Chapter 7 looks at how you get results by making deals. Chapter 8 investigates getting results through the use of rational arguments. Chapter 9 focuses on getting results trough increased understanding. Chapter 10 shows how you get results through cooperation.

Part 3 – Application introduces some tools and approaches to deal effectively with real life situations.
Chapter 11 introduces a planning guide and a 5-Step approach to analysing situations to help you make an informed choice about the most successful approach to critical influence situations. Chapter 12 looks at how you can get positive outcomes in the more difficult situations where there is either greater complexity or deeper conflicts of interest or differences of opinion which need to be resolved.
The last chapter focuses on further development, with suggestions for training courses and other resources to deepen understanding and skills in interpersonal communication. Finally, there is a glossary of terms used in an Appendix for those readers who are not familiar with some of the management theories and concepts referred to in the book.

A final word and reminder on the focus of this book – it is about establishing positive, long term working relationships at the same time as achieving short term task goals. Influence is used in a positive frame and not with the negative connotation that the term has in some other languages, where it is associated with manipulation. Most of the skills and behaviours outlined in the book can be used to manipulate people and trick them into doing what you want. This may be effective in the short term but is not sustainable in the long term, as any observer of the political system will know. Throughout the book, I am assuming that people will be using the skills with integrity, and with a positive intent.