Sunday, April 19, 2009

Influence, Persuasion, and Negotiation

I gave a presentation for the Program Management Institute’s San Diego chapter (component) last Friday. As always, it was a good crowd of very engaged professionals, all looking to improve their effectiveness and the effectiveness of their organizations. I felt as if I was able to pique their interest in the idea of working to improve communication skills. It seems that everyone that I know is trying to improve those skills, and this group was no exception. It is a wonderful bunch of people. I received a lot of good email and questions afterwards.

I have been doing a lot of teaching lately, in addition to speaking, and a question has been raised more than a few times so I’d like to address it in this week’s newsletter – “What is the difference between Influence, Persuasion, and Negotiation as far as the mechanics go?”

I understand where the question comes from; I mean, if you influence someone, aren’t you changing their mind? Isn’t that what you do when you persuade? Isn’t that what you do when you negotiate?

Sort of. The difference in these three concepts is the kind of problem you are trying to solve. When you influence, you are trying to cause a group to address something that isn’t currently being addressed. So you are “changing their minds” to address something that they already know about, but aren’t aware that others are seeking to address it too. When you are persuading, you are providing someone with a new perspective by either changing an old perspective or asking them to look at something they haven’t considered before. So, you are “changing their mind” by giving them reasons to adopt a new perspective. When you negotiate, you are looking at something you both have perspectives on and trying to address the differences between those perspectives to settle on a mutually beneficial way of looking at things.

There are differences in the methods used to solve these three “mind-changing” but ultimately separate discussions. The methods used to influence others are many and varied. The variety of options narrow as you begin to look at maintaining long term relationships with those you are influencing, and narrower yet if you have a reciprocal relationship. I usually try to view influence as something you exercise with a group, as in influencing your workgroup to adopt a new view. This is done by open discussion of a topic, and using our Critical Discussion skills. Review the newsletters I wrote between last September and December for details. The purpose here is to make a private discussion public, remembering that it was probably private because no one felt safe in raising it, often because they are not sure of the soundness of their perspective – are they justified?. The central issue is usually “How can we be sure things are really as they seem?” The task centers on gathering and presenting compelling evidence to the group. Please review the past newsletters on Evidence to refresh yourself on the 6 different “relative weights” of evidence.

The methods used to persuade are different. The reason that the person sees something differently than you is often because they value things differently. In many cases, you may be asking a person to examine and question some of their deeply help beliefs. This is never a manipulative or coercive effort. The task centers on maintaining safety in the discussion, with you exercising great care to create safety. I tend to think of persuasion happening one-on-one. Please review my newsletters on Relationship Management and THE SCORE.

Negotiation has a special set of techniques all its own. In this case, we are actively trading with another party in order to develop a win-win proposition from which all parties benefit. It is specifically about assessing the differences in two positions and resoving them in a mutually beneficial way. There are special preparations that each side makes (such as determining the point at which you will walk away from the negotiation and creating a strategy that includes providing value to both sides) and lots of times where you actually may NOT reveal all that you know or suspect about the situation, so in that way it is very different from either Influence or Persuasion.

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MekkoLa said...

I am working on a research paper about Communication, Effective Persuasion, and Negotiation and I am so happy I found this blog that informed me with facts that I clearly understood. Thanks.

MekkoLa said...

I am doing a research paper about Communication, Effective Persuasion, and Negotiation and I am so happy that I came across this blog. It informed me with facts that was clear and easy for me to understand. Thanks

lee woo said...

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