In Meetings, Shift into Gear

Close up of a gearstick Meetings come in all shapes and sizes; one-on-one, project, department, staff, etc.  Depending on your role, meetings are opportunities to influence decisions, build relationships, and create trust with co-workers and managers.

In our Webinars and classes on Influence, students assess their influence behaviors, styles, and learn when to shift into the best gear for the situation.  I’ll walk you through five styles of influence and give you examples of how my co-workers and I shift into these different styles during meetings.

FIRST GEAR:

The Competing Style can build trust and credibility in a group.  To utilize this style of influence, share your idea with confidence and conviction, expecting others to go along with it.

Example: While discussing multiple steps of a project and stopping to document each step, I decided to take initiative and summarize the process in two sentences. Everyone agreed with my summary and we were able to quickly move on to the next point.

Use the Competing Style sparingly and when quick decisions need to be made.  Also, this style can be used to deter others from taking advantage of non-competitive behavior or when unpopular decisions need to be implemented.

SECOND/THIRD GEAR:

The Compromising Style is all about negotiation--finding a middle ground amongst strong opinions.  Just as with collaboration, the Compromising Style takes time.

Example: I used this style while presenting a new product to my co-workers.  I noticed they looked uncomfortable with the technology I was presenting so I showed them what was “behind the curtain” and asked, “What do you need to feel comfortable?”  After a thorough discussion, we determined that individual training schedules should be offered.  By using the Compromising Style of influence we were able to settle the anxiety over the new product, allowing us to progress to the next topic of discussion.

You can use the Compromising Style to tackle new and complex problems, or to find out what people need when rolling out new projects or responsibilities.

REVERSE:

The Avoiding Style might sound like sticking your head in the sand, but it is actually about picking your battles.

Example: When asked to take on more responsibility and to be trained in many different areas to maximize schedule flexibility, we, as a group, agreed to be trained, instead of voicing our negative thoughts about not wanting to do certain things.  This showed our flexibility for the good of the business and saved time by avoiding long discussions of pros and cons.

You can choose the Avoiding style if confronting the issue will cause more harm than help, or when the consequences are trivial.

COAST:

The Accommodating Style helps to build relationships but has major drawbacks if overused by a team member.  If overused, the accommodator could be taken advantage of or become resentful.

Example: To determine the agenda of a meeting, a group of us collectively adjusted agenda items to accommodate individual schedules and maximize everyone’s time and attendance.

Only accommodate when you gain more than you lose by giving in, or if you break even.  For example: Ask for suggestions when you don’t have one of your own.

CRUISE CONTROL:

The Collaborating Style is what many companies strive for, and is more than just a business buzz word.  Use this style when the team has established trust and has the time to work together to create the “best solution.”

Example: In our staff meeting, we brainstormed to set our growth strategy for 2013.  Each member of the team offered ideas and we voted on the three strategies to pursue.

You can use the Collaborating Style when needing to create buy-in and if your team has trust and proper time to come to a group consensus.

Just as learning to drive takes time; learning how and when to change influence styles will take time and practice as well.  Sign up for our Webinars Influence: The Power of Persuasion and Influencing without Authority to learn more about this subject to get into gear!

Click here for a list and schedule of Learn iT! Professional Development courses.

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Angella Bernal is an outstanding Professional Development trainer and an invaluable part of the Learn iT! team. She creates Professional Development Live Online Training from the Instructor-Led content.  She values learning and in her spare time is learning to homebrew.