How to influence and motivate others (the most important skill you could ever learn?)

7th May 2013

“If you could put on your Magic Hat and instantly master one skill, what would it be?”

I’ve asked this question hundreds of times. And the answer’s almost always the same:

To be better at influencing and/or motivating others

And this makes sense. After all, almost everything you do involves other people. Master how you work with them, and everything improves.

But it isn’t easy. These people are busy. They have different agendas and priorities to you. So, how to influence them towards your way of thinking?

There are two main ways to do this – push and pull. “Push” is where you give them your views on something (you “push” your views to them). “Pull” involves you motivating them to want to change (such that they “pull” your views in).

The main pushing techniques are:

  • Rationalising – “logically, this is the best outcome”; and
  • Asserting – “I think/feel/know/insist we do this”

The main pulling ones are:

  • Inspiring, so people want to follow your vision
  • Negotiating, by continually trading to get win:wins
  • Bridging, where you cross the bridge to see things from their point of view – by asking questions etc – and then tailor your messages accordingly

Done well, pushing is often quicker; whereas pulling often achieves greater commitment.

Done badly, pushing can come across as imposing views/not listening; insincere pulling can appear manipulative and dishonest.

So, which of the two techniques is best? Well, it depends. On you, who you’re speaking to, any “power” you have over each other, what you’re speaking about, deadlines, and so on.

And, because it depends, it’s essential to flex your influencing style depending on the situation.

The easiest time to find the best way to influence someone?

Immediately after you’ve spoken with them. Did they do what you wanted, or not?

The best time?

Immediately before: identify in advance which technique is most likely to work, and spend time honing your approach. Both of you will be glad you did.

Action Point

There are two this week:

Firstly, look at your diary. Who have you got to influence today? Spend time preparing how you’ll approach it – push or pull?

Secondly, there’s a fantastic new book on this subject How to succeed with people (remarkably easy ways to engage, influence and motivate almost anyone). It’s written by one of the UK’s best-selling self-development authors, Paul McGee. It’s been endorsed by the likes of the People Manager of Innocent Drinks and the CEO of Ann Summers.

Like we did with my book The Snowball Effect, if you buy it this week, there’s loads of free stuff – videos on how to influence/motivate others, and the like. To buy the book this week, click here. And, to get your free stuff, send your proof of purchase to

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