Why Is This Topic Important?
Influencing is something everyone needs to be able to do, but it requires a set of skills and understandings that is rarely taught explicitly. Since 1994, when we introduced our “influence fitness” program, Exercising Influence: Building Relationships and Getting Results, participants have asked for a book that they can read for further development.This book, as its name implies, is intended to be a practical guide to developing effective influencing skills independent of the seminar.
What Can You Achieve with This Book?
The book provides a means for reflecting on your current approach to influencing others, as well as examples, insights, tools, and skill practice opportunities that will help you to become a more effective influencer.You will develop a greater appreciation for the many opportunities you have daily to make your life and work more satisfying and meaningful through influential communication. You can use this book in several ways: • As a general information book, to be read in its entirety. • As a resource for specific ideas about various aspects of influencing. If you use it in this way, you may want to read thefirst part and then use the rest for reference, as appropriate. • As a guide to a structured influence fitness program that can be implemented alone or with others in a conscious and sequential way for the purpose of developing and improving skills. • As a follow-up to or preparation for attending the course, Exercising Influence: Building Relationships and Getting Results. For information on thiscourse, see the first item in the Notes section.
How Is the Book Organized?
The material in this book is divided into three parts. The first part, Exercising Influence, focuses on developing the skills and understanding required to be an effective influencer. The second part, Planning for Influence, provides practical advice on preparing for, implementing, and reviewing an actual influenceopportunity. The third part, Special Issues in Influence, explores important issues that arise in the process of exercising your influence, as well as special applications of influence skills. Each of the short chapters within the sections covers an area that is relevant to influencing in all aspects of life. The remainder of the book includes an Appendix with supplementary material. There are twocompanion pieces to this book. The first is a self-study guide, which can be used independently or by working with a coaching partner. It follows this book, chapter by chapter, and will enable the reader to deepen his or her understanding of influence. Practice exercises are included for skill development. The second piece is a discussion guide for a series of facilitated conversations based onthis book. If you are a formal or informal leader of a group or wish to form a group to discuss this topic, the guide will provide you with plans and support material to enhance the group’s learning and your facilitation skills. In this book, I have used several metaphors that offer parallels to this complex topic. Developing influence skills is like fitness training; the planning process is likepreparing for a safari; and the actual experience of influencing is like improvisational theater. The process of becoming an effective influencer is a lifelong journey. To help guide us on this journey, I have selected some quotations from Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose wisdom and good sense speak to us across 170 years. Emerson’s essays, most of them written in the 1830s and 1840s, are especially fullof relevant observations and advice of value to those of us interested in building relationships and getting results through influence. In an 1844 essay, Emerson wrote, “This is that which we call character—a reserved force which acts directly by presence, and without means.” That is as good a definition of the power of influence as we are likely to find.
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