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How to choose the right influencing behavior in every situation?

Updated: Feb 21

This post is a contribution from Frank Garten.


An often asked question by recruitment professionals working with hiring managers is: What influencing style should I use to convince him or her? An understandable question, but not the right one.


The question suggests that it is possible to find one right influencing style that will do the trick, and that for every unique situation there is one such approach that will make you successful. However if this were the case, we humans could be replaced straight away by robots, as simple algorithms would tell them how to behave. Humans come in all sorts and forms, and what convinces one person won’t convince the other.


In a previous blog we discussed 3 styles of effective influencing:

  • The I-dimension, to be used for arguing, requesting, promising and reasoning. I want something, and I communicate this short and concise, confident and convincing.

  • The YOU-dimension, to be used if you want to build a deeper understanding of a person or a situation. I want to understand, so I ask inquiring questions and listen intently.

  • The WE-dimension, to be used to show empathy, share my feelings and express my deeper needs. I want to build a relationship, so I take off my mask and invite you to do the same


The I-dimension is most often associated with effective influencing: if I want something, I have to be assertive and make my point. And if I do not succeed immediately, I have to speak louder, repeat my words more slowly, and be even more assertive. However, when two people disagree and both follow this strategy, we get the famous ping-pong effect: we fire arguments at each other, aimed primarily to score points and win the convincing battle. But nobody will get convinced.


This is why in training workshops such as Influencing Hiring Managers for Recruiters, we do not give you a handbook for what to do in which situation. If this would exist, it would be meaningless, as it would strip our conversations of all authenticity and hence convincing power.

What we do instead is learn you to switch between the different styles of influencing, such that when you notice in a conversation it is not going too well, you have your backpack full of influencing techniques to adapt on the spot. We will also practice this a lot in the training, such that by the time you’re back at work you feel much more confident to choose alternative responses and be a stronger conversation partner for your hiring managers.


The nice thing about these techniques is that they are not hard to learn: on the contrary. It’s a mindset and an attitude that are needed to use the other dimensions of influencing, and not so much the specific skills. This is why in trainings we will work with your own work situations to learn from, get feedback and practice. You will often notice that you do not respond well in these situations, not because you don’t have the skills, but because your mindset is not helping you sufficiently when it should.


And learning to switch mindset and choose a mindset that serves you better to achieve your goals is tremendously powerful. This shift – although small – can have a very big impact on your work results, even the next day.


So how do we use the right influence behaviours in every situation? Well, don’t! Pick the right mindset, and your increased impact will be immediately noticeable to those you work with and try to convince!

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