Influencing Someone Who’s Blocking Your Progress

Apr 1, 2010
4 Min Read

This year, I’ve had the terrific experience of working with Stephen Covey, the author of the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Covey outlines a number of approaches that individuals use when trying to get something from another person, and ultimately advocates win/win, or the attitude that a mutually beneficial solution is the best solution because everyone feels good and one person’s success is not achieved at the expense of another.

Create a Win/Win Solution

In fact, the only real way to motivate someone who’s not allowing you to do your job is to come up with a win/win solution, or proactively considering ways that the other person can benefit from cooperating with you.  Because other people don’t care what you want and want to know what’s in it for them, get her cooperation by making her want to do what you’re asking.  How?  The main tactic is to examine the situation from her point of view and determine her priorities. Then, in your initial approach, talk about what she wants and how your proposal can help her get it.

The Strategy in Action

A former job of mine was to coordinate press interviews between executives and journalists. One afternoon, I had to persuade a high-level sales executive to postpone a visit with a client and spend an hour talking with a journalist on deadline. However, I understood that the sales executive wanted to spend his time closing deals, not chatting it up with someone who couldn’t pay him, even if that was part of his job responsibilities.  So I approached my request this way:

“You mentioned that we sometimes lose deals because we can’t demonstrate to potential clients how our products are covered in the press. Here is our chance to change that. Ordinarily I wouldn’t ask you to move your meeting, but the client is available for lunch on Friday. The article with your interview will have appeared online by then—why don’t I get you a copy to show him?”

In this way, the sales executive saw how talking with the journalist could help him get what he wanted: more closed deals. He realized that spending an hour now would pay huge publicity dividends later on, and that it might even help persuade the client he planned on visiting that week. I got my interview done on time, and the sales executive met the client for lunch armed with an extra weapon. Win/Win!

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