I gave a communications workshop recently, notionally on the topic of how to engage, persuade and communicate effectively through the 2-dimensional world of online video appearances.  As always, I have a rough idea of the content that will be useful to the audience BUT I’ve learned over the years to leave big chunks of time open for discussion and enquiry.  When I made the comment that influence can be exerted either vertically or horizontally it sparked quite a bit of interest, particularly from the women in the room, some of whom realized they hadn’t looked beyond their traditional manner of persuading or pitching their ideas.

My colleague, Dr. Tracy Cocivera, has developed an influence model which looks not only at the current state, i.e., who you want to influence and what you expect to get, but also looks at the pre-existing relationship and the types of influence that have been tried, failed or succeeded in the past. In other words, very few encounters at work occur in a vacuum of no history.

Vertical influence is most traditionally exerted in a hierarchical structure where someone is “above” you on the organization chart, but it can also be exerted by “experts.” Ask yourself if the object of your pitch will be convinced by your expertise and, if so, make yourself look and sound like that expert.

If, however, your audience will respond more favourably to a pitch coming from someone who is perceived to be like them, or one of the group, you’ll have to tailor yourself to that persona.

Here is the kicker, though: if you push yourself too far out of your authentic self the whole house of cards will collapse because you’ll be seen as fake or dishonest and your credibility will be blown. Crazy that could happen just through the wrong choice of clothing or footwear but sometimes it comes down to those details.

Want to chat more about this? Get in touch here.

Joanna Piros