Why won’t they listen to me?
It’s never easy being on the outside. You have ideas, energy, and courage. Entrenched in the front lines, you witness the bottlenecks and redundancies – and the havoc they bring. So much waste and cost. How do the higher ups miss it, you wonder? Despite your persistence, you can’t make any headway. Meetings keep getting pushed back. Email replies come back complimentary…and vague. And no one ever seems to remember exactly what you wanted to talk about.
Just because you don’t have authority doesn’t mean you can’t gain clout. Power isn’t just rooted in where your box rests in the org chart. It also stems how you present yourself – and the quality of your ideas. Here, relationships are capital, with their value measured in the degree of comfort and confidence you inspire. Some call it playing it politics. In reality, it is influence – a force that is far more compelling and lasting than formal authority can ever be.
MAKING A PITCH…WITHOUT ANYONE KNOWING
In October, this dynamic will be explored in Influence, a new MOOC from the Wharton School that opens on October 9. Taught by Cade Massey, an expert in persuasion and analytics, the course is a primer on how to build relationships and frame ideas to foster action. Think of it as a persuasion boot camp that takes students beyond the usual rhetorical tropes.
For one, Massey tells his class, influence is cloaked in not coming across like you’re making a sales pitch. “There is a message here that unseen power Is particularly influential,” he lectures. “And unseen persuasive efforts are particularly influential. Essentially, folks get defensive if they know you’re trying to sell them something. If you can slip below the defenses, you can be a little bit more persuasive. So social influence is a great way of doing that daily exposure whether as to other environmental settings a person’s in, the language they’re exposed to, the colleagues they spent time with. These are all ways that that people are widely influence overtime, one of the reason is a repeated exposure, another reason is because it’s below their defenses.”
To be truly effective influencers, Massey encourages students to step into their audience’s shoes. Namely, they must fully understand their pressures, goals, and values. That way, they can craft messaging that is simple, relevant, and moving. At the same time, he warns his students to reach beyond logical arguments to tug the heart strings.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
“Emotion is key” he urges. “It isn’t the case that more is always better. You have to match the audience. That requires some sensitivity and preparation. But it is the case that we often under estimate the importance of emotion. Especially those of us in the business world, in the business education world, trained analytically, we can neglect what turns out to be one the most powerful levers available to us and that is emotion.”
A powerful message is only part of the equation, Massey adds. Building coalitions and consensus also involves finding the right time and place when decision-makers may be open to learning more about how they can enhance performance. “It’s kind of the unappreciated fourth element of rhetoric. They’re talking about timing. Essentially that an important consideration and a persuasive effort is the time, right? We connect that to the notion of situation awareness. You gotta know when is the time to sit down and put a lot of thought into that persuasive message because there will be those moments.”
CULTURAL NEGOTIATION STRATEGIES AND DIGITAL MARKETING HIGHLIGHT OCTOBER
Influence is just one of several new courses launchin, g in October. Negotiation is a must-have skill for anyone involved in managing partnerships. Each party is always angling for the best terms – and costly misunderstandings are common…especially when the players come from very different backgrounds. In International and Cross-Cultural Negotiation, ESSEC Business School looks at negotiation tactics, tendencies by region, with an emphasis on how to develop strategies that defuse potential conflicts and create win-win arrangements. Looking to spend time working on yourself? The University of Michigan returns with The Science of Success: What Researchers Know that You Should Know, which looks at how students can raise their game by adopting proven strategies for fostering long-term changes in attitude and routine.
Marketing and finance are also popular topics this month. Notably, the University of Illinois is offering Marketing in an Analog World, which examines how the digital revolution has impacted the analog world. This course would pair nicely with U.C.-Berkeley’s Marketing Analytics: Marketing Measurement Strategy, a look at the basic analytics tools for evaluating the best growth and profit sectors. By the same token, several popular finance courses return in October, including the University of Michigan’s Valuing Companies, Wharton’s Introduction to Corporate Finance, and Columbia University’s two-part series on Financial Engineering and Risk Management.
Let’s not forget entrepreneurship, headed up by Michigan State’s Planning: Principled, Proposing, Proofing, and Practicing to a Success Plan, which applies lean principles to the development of a business plan. MIT and Wharton return with Entrepreneurship 102: Who Is Your Customer and Social Impact Strategy: Tools for Entrepreneurs and Innovators, respectively.
To learn more about these courses — and many more — click on the links below.
MARKETING & STRATEGY