While setting forth inspiring visions, making bold decisions in support of change, and modeling desired behavior with integrity is the stuff of leadership legend, change ultimately happens in small steps taken daily to nudge people in the right direction. Consider the following influence tactics that people use every day at work that, when used with caution and in small doses, can help get people to do things they might not otherwise do. You won’t find these in leadership books!
Nagging. When someone is dragging their feet or in need of small behavior correction, a few repetitive requests or reminders might do the trick. The risk is that you might become an annoyance and he might dig in his heels further. Before the nagging gets to that level, ask what might be holding him back, and offer to help.
Begging. Although getting on your knees and crying will most likely not win you favor, going the route of “Please… Pretty please… Pretty please with sugar on top…” used occasionally with someone you know will work. It is important for your dignity that you escalate your request with increasing urgency without sounding desperate.
Ridiculing. You should only taunt someone you know well and in good humor. The last thing you want to do is hurt someone’s feelings or offend him by striking a nerve, so ridicule coworkers with caution. But, insinuating that your colleague doesn’t want to try something because he is a sissy, or is not smart enough, or whatever he would want to prove wrong might spring him into action.
Bribery. While it sounds illicit, bribery is simply offering something in exchange for what you would like the other person to do. Mutual back-scratching or trading favors are common ways to influence someone who doesn’t believe the value of performing an activity is worth the effort to do it. Note: Do not offer or request anything illegal or unethical!
Flattery. The saying goes, “Flattery will get you nowhere,” but anyone who has been given a well-placed acknowledgment or compliment knows it can go a long way. Of course, someone will see through a compliment given just before a request is made. She will know you are buttering her up. But if you can brighten someone’s day with a genuine acknowledgment, she is bound to repay it.
Threats. As a last resort, it might help to inform someone that if she doesn’t play along, something bad is going to happen. The manner in which you send this message makes all the difference. It’s most effective if it sounds like a kind warning instead of intimidation. If your next course of action is to get her boss involved, it might be a good idea to bring this up, so she has the opportunity to act before that happens.
When have these worked for you?
How have they backfired?
What would you add to the list?