In the past, I wrote about our industry influencers.
Meanwhile, and unrelated to that post, I happened to pick up a book entitled “Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In” by Mark Goulston and John Ullman. After all, for all of us who gather requirements, design systems, try to make sales, and perform the many other roles we’re required to do, there is some amount of influence that we try to gain in these situations. This book makes it clear that influencing people has nothing to do with getting them to think what you want them to think or do what you want them to do. Tricks and manipulation don’t lead to true influence. In fact, to truly influence people, it says that you have to see others as “collaborators” as opposed to “dividing [them up] into adversaries and allies.” If you want to be influential, you have to show you’re willing to be influenced. I don’t think I had thought about the issue in quite this way but it got me to stop and think more about it.
The book has many good examples that are simple to understand. Chapter eight describes the four levels of listening, for example. It describes the different ways that we listen in terms that illustrate the issues behind some of these levels. It’s full of questions intended to make you think hard about the way you interact with others and the way you think about yourself. If you want to find ways to get others to do what you want, find some other book, but if you want to become an influencer, this is a book you should check out.