Personal Influence. Most folks like the notion of having some. My professional practice is predicated on the benefits of getting it.
The right position in the right firm gets us a modicum of influence. Knowing other influential people gets us some more. Presenting innovative ideas – huh, now we’re getting somewhere. The most disarming way of being influential?
Yep. Ask great questions.
It’s that simple. It’s not that obvious. It allows everyone in every organizational function to wield influence. And it needs to be executed with finesse.
When we hired Leandra Campbell to be the Relationship Manager at my firm, we hired her over more seasoned, more flashy, more obvious candidates. Why did we hire Leandra? In the interview, Leandra asked keenly thoughtful questions.
Back in the days, when I had my very first assignment as an Executive Coach, I had a session with my client Oliver in which I felt resoundingly inadequate. Oliver talked and talked, and I simply had no insights to offer or any great wisdom to share. I chimed in a few times, remained silent the remainder of our session. It was an utterly excruciating experience for me.
“You were so helpful,” Oliver said when we were done.
Yep. I asked a couple of questions.
What makes a question a great influencing question? Influencing questions expand the scope of a conversation. They invite fresh perspectives and surprising ways of looking at the familiar. They help others to see things they may have overlooked. They create momentum.
Here are 4 ways of influencing a conversation with a question:
This the finesse part I suggest we never forget. It’s as critical – and influential – as the questions themselves.
Sometimes we influence with a fresh idea, a new course of action. Here’s the gift of influencing with questions: We can do it in the absence of a fresh idea or a new course of action. We can do it any day, anywhere, anytime. We can always be influential.
I find that profoundly liberating.