Influence and Persuasion at Work
  • Leadership

Influence and Persuasion at Work

Wharton’s Richard Shell offers advice on improving influence and building stronger rapport

Thursday 15 June 2017


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In the pressurized pursuit of business goals, it is easy to lose sight of the needs and feelings of our colleagues, employees, and other stakeholders – the very people we must influence and persuade to achieve success. Not only that, for many otherwise capable leaders the art of persuasion and influence does not come naturally, and gaining the engagement and support of people they do not know well, to get things done, is hard.

Help is at hand in this article from G. Richard Shell, Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics and Management at The Wharton School. In this he provides five rapport-building steps to quickly and successfully win friends and influence the people that occupy the 9-to-5 working part of our day.

Click on DOWNLOAD THIS RESOURCE above to read ‘Improve Your Influence: Build Stronger Rapport’ from The Wharton School.

Professor Shell uses a phrase from Aristotle, ‘friends of utility’, to describe the practical, work-based, friends who are neither the people closest to you (Aristotle called these your ‘friends of virtue’), nor the people you see mainly when you are looking to relax and have a good time (your ‘friends of pleasure’).

Describing the thinking behind this paper, Shell says:

“To be a more effective influencer, you have to realize that you are just one point of view. The other person is very likely different than you expect. We’re hard-wired to make assumptions — they’re efficient, they give us confidence, and they help us to proceed rapidly to action. But if you’re trying to persuade someone, you have to slow down and investigate instead of making assumptions about others’ worldviews and perceptions. It’s about them, not you.”

Shell, who is Academic Director of Wharton’s Strategic Persuasion Workshop: The Art and Science of Selling Ideas, goes on to say another lesson is about letting go of our need for closure.

“We all want a beginning, a middle, and an end. But when it comes to influence and persuasion, we are never done. Those who do it well have patience and resilience, knowing that whatever closure they might experience is temporary. They’re also more persistent and less exhausted — which makes them more effective. Like giving up assumptions, it’s not easy to accept that persuasion is never over. But once you do, your outcomes will improve.”

Click on DOWNLOAD THIS RESOURCE above to read ‘Improve Your Influence: Build Stronger Rapport’ from The Wharton School.

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