Is Influencing Ethical?

Colleagues had flown in from all over the globe for this conference.

We were just about to get the part of the day dedicated to Influencing Skills started, when a senior leader stood up and said,

“We can’t be seen to be Influencing in our field, in fact we have highly visible rules and regulations on this, how is this even ethical?”

red10 ‘s Kirsten Campbell explains that this is a question that we hear often, in many forms. In fact, this subject has come up in every Influencing Masterclass. It is a legitimate and important question, so let’s look at it more closely.

We Are Constantly Influencing

We are all constantly having an influencing effect on people around us.

Maybe we influence people away from us, by what we say and do.

Perhaps you influence others toward you and your ideas.

Maybe we have a more neutral effect.

All without realizing.

Therefore, it makes sense in situations that really matter that we choose a conscious approach that is likely to influence positively.

Dictionary Definitions

Just to be clear, let’s start with some dictionary definitions:

Influencing

the power to have an effect on people or thing [Cambridge Dictionary]

Persuasion

to make someone do or believe something by giving them a good reason to do it, or by talking to that person and making them believe it [Cambridge Dictionary]

Manipulation

to control something or someone to your advantage, often unfairly or dishonestly [Cambridge Dictionary]

Leadership

The moment you influence another human being you are leading

(this one isn’t from the dictionary but someone’s working definition that I picked up along the way)

So it’s not about “Blinding Others with our Brilliance”?

When people arrive at one of our Influencing Masterclasses there’s often an expectation from folks that much of the focus will be on learning how to deftly land finely honed, crisp, killer points thereby blinding others with our brilliance.

We are met with much relief and reassurance when our learners realize very early on that much of Influencing is focused on the other individual/parties wants and needs as well as our own wants and needs.

When we find out what they think, and share what experts like Professor Cialdini say in the long chapter on ethics in his book Pre-Suasion, we always end-up summarizing the answer as Win:Win.

What does Win:Win ethical influencing look like?

Here’sred10 ‘s Ethical Influencing Model:

Consider that there may be legitimate and considered reasons to be in quadrants other than Win:Win.

For instance Lose:Win may be appropriate for diplomatic reasons or if you are consciously giving away concessions to establish trust and goodwill so that at the next meeting or opportunity you have created a more solid and sustainable platform. After all, as Dr Steven Covey said, trust is at the heart of great Influencing.

Ethical Influencing Behaviours and Skills

In my next article, I will elaborate on the behaviours and skills to achieve success in the Win:Win quadrant.

We’d love to hear your views on our Ethical Influencing Model.

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