Issue # 1 - Effective Influencing

by Randi Brenowitz

Issue # 1

Brenowitz Consulting is pleased to bring you this inaugural issue of Tools for Teams, our bi-monthly electronic newsletter.

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Issue # 1- Effective Influencing

In this era of cross-functional teams, joint ventures, partnerships, and alliances, masters of influence exert far greater power than might be expected from their official title or position in the hierarchy.  With that in mind, I eagerly started reading Exercising Influence by B. Kim Barnes (Barnes & Conti Associates, 2000).  I was not disappointed.

Barnes reminds us that a good set of influence skills can lead to:

  • Improved ability to manage and lead cross-functionally
  • More positive and productive professional relationships
  • Greater ability to choose and use behaviors tactically to achieve strategic objectives
  • More confidence in one's ability to achieve results through other people and a better track record of actually doing so
  • Increased flexibility in dealing with people from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds, as well as those who differ in gender, generation, experience, and personality
  • Improved skills for resolving conflict
Barnes believes that there are four essential elements that form the Influence Framework:

    1.  Results: What are you hoping to accomplish through influencing this person?
    2.  Relationship: What kind of influence relationship do you currently have?
    3.  Context: What individual, organizational, or cultural issues might affect the results?
    4.  Behaviors: Which influence behaviors are the most likely to help you accomplish your goals?

After a brief discussion of the first three elements, several chapters explore the specific influence behaviors in greater depth.  We are introduced to the concepts of expressive influence (sending your ideas and energy out to others) and receptive influence (inviting others to contribute ideas, information, and action).

Expressive behaviors are suggesting, expressing needs, offering reasons, referring to shared values or goals, encouraging, envisioning, offering incentive, and describing consequences.  When used effectively, expressive influence leads people to action.  It allows you to communicate your enthusiasm for an idea and exhort others to share it.  Expressive influence is best used when you want people to know what you need; you have a solution to a problem that has already been expressed; you want to generate enthusiasm and energy; you want to bring disagreements out into the open; or you want to move toward completing an agreement or getting a commitment.

Receptive behaviors are asking open-ended questions; drawing others out; checking for understanding, testing implications clarifying issues, posing challenging questions; disclosing information about yourself; and identifying with the other person.  Receptive influence indicates respect for the ideas and concerns of others.  It can guide you and others to an agreement or solution that satisfies all.  You should consider using receptive behaviors, says Barnes, when you need important information; you want to get the other person committed to a decision; you need the other person to take an action that you cannot take yourself; or the other person has indicated that he or she does not feel listened to.

A balanced combination of expressive and receptive behaviors can be a powerful tool to help you achieve your goals you have in any influencing situation. The summary chart on page 30 and the guidelines for choosing each of these behaviors on pages 102 & 103 are worth the price of the book.  I strongly suggest keeping them close at hand.

The remainder of the book outlines how to develop an influencing plan that focuses on Barnes’s four key elements with guidelines for choosing the right behavior in various circumstances.  Appendix C provides a helpful step-by-step worksheet.  It is a valuable tool that, if used properly, can enable people to use the skills they already have, practice some new ones, and become better influencers and team leaders and members.

Additional Resources on this topic:

  • Cohen, Alan & Bradford David, Influence Without Authority, John Wiley & Sons, 1989.  This is an older book that is still a good, basic text on the subject.  It goes into much more depth than the Barnes book, but is slow going. If the topic really intrigues you, this book is a must.
  • Cialdini, Robert, Harnessing the Science of Persuasion, Product # 7915, HBR On Point, Harvard Business Review, 2001.  HBR has a new service, which expands some of their more popular articles and makes them available for download.  For more information, go to  “No leader can succeed without mastering the art of persuasion.  But there's hard science in that skill, too, and a large body of psychological research suggests that there are six basic laws of winning friends and influencing people.”
  • Exercising Influence and Constructive Negotiation seminars facilitated by Barnes & Conti Associates.  Kim Barnes and her staff have created two wonderful workshops that build on the concepts discussed in the book.  This is a great way for a team to practice the concepts and gain a shared language and understanding of this topic.  Contact Barnes & Conti at 800-835-0911 or


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