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Collaborative problem solving for community safety
Collaborative problem solving for community safety

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4.3 Influencing

Influencing – not to be confused with the potentially more cynical and harmful concept of manipulation – comes in many shapes and forms. The Oxford Dictionary, for example, defines influence as ‘the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself’.

The American psychologist, Robert Cialdini , in Influence: Science and Practice, (2001), identified six key principles of influencing that are worth reflecting on:

  • Reciprocity: that we tend to repay, in kind, what another person has provided to us
  • Consistency: we tend to behave in a manner which is consistent with what we have previously done or previously committed to
  • Social proof: in order to determine what is correct we observe what other people do or think is correct
  • Liking: we most prefer to say yes to people we know and especially those we like
  • Authority: people tend to follow the instructions of authority figures
  • Scarcity: a perceived scarcity in supply will drive an increase in demand.

On a simpler level, when seeking to positively influence a stakeholder or stakeholder group it is worth considering the difference between Push influencing and Pull influencing:

  • Push influencing
    • More talking than listening
    • Emphasis on facts, not feelings
    • The influencer works mostly alone
    • The focus is on quick results.
  • Pull influencing
    • Listening before talking
    • Emphasis on understanding needs and getting to know the other person
    • The influencer works together with others
    • The focus is on long-term cooperation.

Activity 6 How do you influence others?

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes for this activity.

Reflect back on the last few weeks and think about times when you have sought to positively influence people. Using the key elements of Push and Pull influencing outlined above think about your own style and how often you have applied each. In your practice, which style of influencing do you believe is and has been most effective?