Tag Archives: influencing skills

How To “Flip” Fear As A Driver To Greater Influence

Everyone – without exception – lives with fear. But only a few know that fear and anxiety can be turned to your advantage. Influence guru Julie Masters discusses the keys to dealing with fear with former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb.

Whether we’re in critical negotiations with suppliers, asking for a raise at work or presenting in front of our peers, fear is one of those unwanted emotions that we find ourselves encountering all too often.

Like it or not though, fear is something we have to deal with, and the sooner we can make it work for us, the more effective and influential we can be in our own lives.

Recently I was fortunate enough to interview Brandon Webb on the Inside Influence podcast to talk about doing just that.

Webb is a former US Navy SEAL sniper who worked as an experimental aircraft pilot, helicopter Search & Rescue swimmer and an Aviation Warfare Systems Operator.

After completing four deployments to the Middle East, you would be forgiven for assuming that Webb is as close as they come to being fearless.

It’s surprising to learn then, that Webb had to deal with his own fears and anxieties throughout his entire military career, gradually teaching himself how to identify and change the conversation that took place in his head.

Webb has since left the military and has gone on to become a successful entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author, sharing the journey he has had with fear and the methods he has used to overcome it in his book Mastering Fear.

Webb’s message is applicable to anyone facing fear, no matter the context – whether it’s being involved in a life-or-death situation, or standing up in front of work colleagues to deliver a presentation.

Here are Webb’s five tips on mastering fear to increase your influence.

Redirect the momentum

If you see fear as the enemy, you’ve already lost.

Fear can never be overcome, beaten, or evaded. The feeling of fear is part of our physiology and treating it as an adversary will only set you up for failure.

Rather than treating fear as a wall that you need to break through, Webb suggests using the power of fear as a force to harness and redirect.

Try to observe and acknowledge the feelings that come up – the adrenaline, the nerves, the tension – and use those feelings to propel you to achieve the task that’s in front of you.

It’s the difference between telling yourself “I’m not scared”, versus admitting “I am scared, but I’m going to use these feelings to help me move through this situation.”

Imagine what you could achieve if you stopped fearing fear itself. How many times would you put your hand up to speak? Offer your expertise or ideas? Request that seat at the table – confidently backed up with all the reasons you can add significant value?

Flip the mental switch

We’ve all been told that staying at our peak is more about mindset than it is about our physical state, and mastering fear is no different.

Monitoring, recognising and changing your internal dialogue – the mental chatter in your own head – is a key step in mastering fear.

This often involves taking a step back from the situation that’s brought up those feelings, recognising those feelings for what they are, and making a conscious decision to take a different direction rather than remaining overwhelmed.

Despite what we may think about what it takes to be a Navy SEAL, Webb points out that mastering fear isn’t about being stronger, tougher or more aggressive. It’s simply about being able to change the conversation going on in your head – something anybody can do. 

The most influential people I have ever met – in industries, politics and organisations – all have that ability in spades. The ability to identify the internal story that keeps them – or their idea – on the sidelines. Then shift it to one of empowerment.

As a place to start, ask yourself these questions: What currently stops me from making the highest value contribution I could make to this space / industry / conversation? What would be the first step in letting that story go? How would I feel if I did?

Use the charge

A typical adrenaline rush (a hormonal symptom of fear) can briefly turn us into superhumans – our heart rate increases, our blood pressure spikes, we can take in more air, and our blood is quickly redistributed to our muscles for increased strength.

Webb likens these physical changes to a “static charge” that can be harnessed to electrify rather than paralyse us.

Successful procurement professionals proactively seek out this charge as one of nature’s best tools to sharpen their abilities when they’re under pressure, especially in tough negotiation settings.

Harnessing this energy is a great way to take fear and proactively use it to move forward, rather than remaining paralysed when the going gets tough.

So the next time you feel the charge – stop, feel it – and then consciously decide to channel it as the super human burst of energy it was designed to be.

Use fear in rehearsal

When Webb was working as a search and rescue helicopter pilot, he very nearly lost his life when a mission went wrong.

One of the two pilots he was on a flight with suddenly suffered from vertigo, dropping the helicopter from altitude and plunging its bottom half into the ocean.

The pilot was overwhelmed by fear – unable to act or respond to the crew screaming at him to regain altitude.

The co-pilot, however, was able to calmly lift the helicopter out of the water and back into the air, saving the lives of Webb and the other crew members.

Webb’s theory is that the panicked pilot had, until that point, rarely experienced a level of adversity or stress throughout his life – that would have allowed him to work through the situation in his head. He had effectively ‘frozen up’.

His co-pilot however, had come from a lifetime of adversity. He had been bullied at school when he was younger and had grown up having to mentally work through his fears in order to carry on successfully.

Webb recommends that even people who have led a comparably stress-free life can artificially rehearse the feeling of fear – by role-playing frightening situations and having to move through a level of decision-making to get to an effective outcome.

You might be familiar with role-playing at work – usually practicing ideal scenarios – but how many of us role play difficult scenarios? Where we’re really challenged to make tough decisions and actually work through our fears?

So what now?

While we’re all undoubtedly going to experience fear throughout our lives – especially in the quest to become more influential. The tools that we have on hand to deal with that experience can make all the difference when it comes to cracking under pressure or rallying successfully.

So as a first step – start recognising fear as an energy source that can be harnessed, that we can make work for us in incredible and unlimited ways. If you can master that – you will have truly ‘flipped’ the power of fear to your advantage.


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The CPO’s Guide To Persuasion

What’s the number one skill required by the CPO of the future? According to award-winning Australian CPO Kevin McCafferty, you won’t get far without mastering the art of persuasion.

Broadspectrum Executive General Manager and 2017 Asia-Pacific CPO of the Year Kevin McCafferty will deliver a keynote session at the upcoming GovProcure2017 conference, running from 5th-7th December in Sydney, Australia. Procurious caught up with Kevin to ask him about top skills required by the CPO of the future. 

Kevin, you’ll be talking about procurement in 2018 and beyond at GovProcure2017. How can CPOs equip themselves to meet the coming challenges?  

“In my opinion, the number one skill for the CPO of the future is what I’d call the ‘art of persuasion’. Procurement is a profession that a lot of organisations see as a tactical solution to some of the issues that they have. Most organisations spend about 50 per cent of their revenue on 3rd-party suppliers and service providers. If your business spends that much money externally, they need to become more strategic in doing so – and that’s where the need for persuasion arises.”

Which parts of the business generally require the most persuasion from CPOs?

“A CPO’s job is firstly to persuade the organisation when to be strategic in the way they spend it, and secondly, to invest in the profession so they get the best value-for-money outcomes every time they spend money. It doesn’t matter whether they’re buying pens and pencils, or if there’s a $10 million project your organisation wants to invest in; there’s an art involved in being able to persuade your board, your executive team, and your chief executive that investing in procurement to get those outcomes is absolutely critical to the profession.”

In your view, how important is networking for procurement professionals?

“The power of your network is absolutely critical to your career. In this profession, being able to talk to your peers and understand what’s happening in their organisations will help you work through your own strategies and goals.”

Kevin McCafferty will deliver the opening keynote at GovProcure2017 in Sydney on 5th December, where he’ll focus on:

  • an overview of procurement trends for 2018 and beyond
  • the age of commercialisation and digitisation, and how it’s impacting the profession, and
  • common challenges facing procurement and how to tackle the solutions.

Click here to learn more and download an event brochure.

In Search of Influence – What the Literature Says

Searching for the true meaning of influence, and how procurement professionals can, and need to, become better doing it. Article by Gordon Donovan.

I have recently completed my masters, and my dissertation looked at influencing within procurement and how to develop these skills.

This article looks at the published literature around influencing. The next article will review the opinions of top influencers and consider what their key traits are, and how these skills can be developed.

Much has been written about the need for the professional skill sets required by procurement professionals to change. According to CIPS over the last 5 years, the skills required have changed as the table below: [i]

Skills Table - GD

For Procurement to achieve its goals, more work needs to be done to align to key stakeholders and understand the business operations, in order to become a true strategic partner.

This means moving up the value chain to ensure that the function is involved much earlier in the decision-making processes and clearly demonstrating how active involvement adds tangible value to both the bottom and the top lines.

In order to do this, Procurement as a function needs to expand its ability to influence, and procurement practitioners need to expand their own personal influencing skills (along with other soft skills).

So what do we mean by influencing and what are the different ways we can influence?

What is Influence?

Influencing skills, have been defined as the ability to get people to do what you want[ii], or changing people’s behaviour to act in your favour through the use of persuasion[iii], or wielding effective tactics of persuasion[iv].

How can we Influence

We all have differing influencing styles which generally will fall into any of the following:

  • Asserting – where you insist on your ideas being heard, and you challenge the ideas of others.
  • Convincing – where you put forward ideas and offer logical reasoning, which convinces others of your point of view.
  • Negotiating – where you look for compromises and make concessions, in order that you can reach an outcome that satisfies your greater interest.
  • Bridging – where you build relationships and connect with others, using listening and understanding to build coalitions.
  • Inspiring – where you advocate a position and then encourages others to come round to the idea by sharing a sense of purpose.

Dale Carnegie[v] wrote, that in order to become effective influencers, we need to influence people at an individual level. He also argued that the steps for effective influencing are:

  • If you want to make a good first impression, smile.
  • If you want others to like you, don’t criticise them.
  • If you want others to gladly do you favours, show your appreciation frequently.
  • If you want to be interesting yourself, be interested in others.
  • Show your appreciation for others by talking about what’s important to them.
  • We like people who show their appreciation and remember things about us, like our names.
  • Avoid all arguments – they cannot be won.
  • Never tell others they are wrong, they will only resent you.
  • Whenever you are wrong, admit it immediately and clearly.
  • To be convincing, get others to say “yes” as often as possible.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the capacity of people’s ability to recognise their own, and to understand and recognise others’, emotions, and use that information to guide behaviour and therefore influence.

Daniel Goleman argues that just having one persuasion skill alone, and deploying just one, may not be good enough to gain influence. He argues that being influential is having the ability to sense what other kinds of appeals will persuade key decision makers.

Critically, Goleman argues, it is noticing when one tactic isn’t working and when to switch to a different one which adds impact to an individual.

So what are the persuasion skills?

Persuasion

Manningham and Robertson[vi] identified 6 persuasion strategies from their research:

  • Reason – the use of logic or facts to justify a request
  • Assertion – making a direct request and using emotion to underline our need
  • Exchange – the trading of one thing for another
  • Courting favour – being friendly or positive with people
  • Coercion – the implication of negative outcomes on not agreeing
  • Partnership – gaining the support of people both within and outside the organisation.

In developing this research on persuasion tools, Reynolds developed the Persuasion Tools Model[vii], based on work by the psychologist Kenneth Berrien. It links negotiation and persuasion style, to emotional intelligence (EI), and in some ways echoes the work of Manning and Robertson

The Persuasion Tools Model
The Persuasion Tools Model

In this model, the horizontal axis represents influencing, which Reynolds states is a measure of your overall persuasion capability. The vertical axis represents the level of intuition required.

Summary

Two main thoughts are drawn from this research:

  1. That deploying one persuasion tactic as part of a plan is not enough; and
  2. Influencing, when it happens, happens with one person at a time.

In the next article, we will identify the traits of top influencers and how we may develop these skills.

[i] CIPS (2015) Advanced Diploma in Procurement and Supply; Chapter 4 Skills for Category Management

[ii] Mullins, L. (1996). Management and organization. 4th ed.  Pitman

[iii] Manning T; Robertson B; (2003),”Influencing and negotiating skills: Part I: influencing strategies and styles”, Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 35 Iss 1 pp. 11 – 15;

[iv] Goleman D (1998) Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ; Bloomsbury Publishing

[v] Carnegie D; (1937) How to win friends and influence people: Simon and Schuster

[vi] Manning T; Robertson B; (2003),”Influencing and negotiating skills; Part II: influencing styles and negotiating skills”, Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 35 Iss 2 pp. 60 – 66;

[vii] Reynolds, A. (2003) ‘Emotional Intelligence and Negotiation,’ Hampshire: Tommo Press