Book Review: The Influence Edge
From time-to-time, as we receive career-related and job-hunting books and other resources from publishers, the staff of Quintessential Careers will review them to help you make better decisions about the best books to use in your career and job search.
The Influence Edge: How to Persuade Others to Help You Achieve Your Goals, by Alan A. Vengel, 120 pages, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.; ISBN: 158376156X, $15.95.
Reviewed by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Editor’s note: Read an interesting article written for Quintessential Careers by Alan Vengel: Using Influence Skills in Career Development.
If you have ever wanted to learn how to do a better job of influencing people, of perfecting the art of persuasion and motivation, of dealing with difficult people — in your personal life or at work — then The Influence Edge may be just the book you are looking for to help you succeed.
Full of helpful advice, interesting anecdotes, and thought-provoking worksheets, this easy-to-read book provides the basics for increasing your power to influence others. In seven short chapters, the author takes you through the steps of understanding behavior, developing influence strategies, and increasing your influence skills.
Key highlights of the book include a discussion of push and pull energy influence strategies, types of communications styles, and increasing influence through building rapport.
Push and Pull Energy Influence Strategies
Vengel states that knowing how to harness the two types of energy that flows from communication is “the key that drives this influence model.”
Push energy is “direct, forceful, and persuasive.” When a person uses push energy she is being very specific about what she wants and when she needs it. It can be a very effective influence tool, if used correctly, but Vengel warns that people may resist, withdraw, or even push back. You are using push energy when you clearly and directly assert what you want and when you suggest concrete ways another person(s) can help you.
Pull energy is “inclusive and involving.” When a person uses pull energy he is asking questions and seeking information to engage someone and pull them into the situation. Vengel says that pull energy is good at breaking down resistance, gaining support, and building relationships. You are using pull energy when you ask questions to gather information or focus on alternatives and when you summarize what the other person has said to demonstrate understanding and clarify the issues.
Vengel goes on to talk about the importance of understanding various communications styles; thus, you need to focus beyond the message content of push or pull to how the message is delivered. He talks about four communication styles: the Authoritarian, the Analyzer, the Visionary, and the Supporter.
The Authoritarian prefers to work at a fast pace, He focuses on the task at hand, likes control, and makes decisions quickly. He does not want to get lost in the details; he wants solutions.
The Analyzer prefers to take her time and go at a slow pace. She focuses on facts and information and likes to make decisions logically and carefully. She wants to be sure she has complete information before making a decision.
The Visionary prefers to work at a fast pace. He likes dealing with the “big picture,” focusing on ideas and imagery rather than details and specifics. He often makes decisions impulsively.
The Supporter prefers to seek input from all involved parties before making any decisions. She likes to work on projects that have meaning to her. She focuses more on the impact of decisions and building relationships.
One of the keys, according to Vengel, is understanding both your own communications style, as well as the styles of those you are attempting to influence. To further complicate matters, most people operate with at least two communications styles (a primary and secondary style).
Increasing Influence through Building Rapport
Vengel says that at its basis, good rapport is simply the ability to sustain good communications. He states that besides the obvious solution of gearing your approach to your subject’s preferred communication style, another way is examining how your subject’s mind works — focusing on the three senses of vision, hearing, and feeling.
Visual people are more affected by their surroundings and focus on imagery and pictures. They need a map of the decision.
Auditory people are more affected by noises and sounds in their environment and focus on words and speech. They like to make well-informed decisions.
Kinesthetic people are most affected by their emotions and the feelings of those in the decision. They think by getting in touch with feelings and tend to express emotions spontaneously.
The Bottom Line
Vengel does a good job in helping people better understand themselves and the people around them. His book is easy to read and understand, and short enough to digest in a just a few sittings. The biggest downside is that the reader is left wanting more. In fact, the author even admits that this book “is your starter kit.” Vengel conducts influence workshops across the country and freely admits in the book that there is more to learn and experience in becoming an expert at using influence to persuade others. Still, as a starting point to understanding these issues — as a basic primer to communicating and influencing — this book is a useful tool.
Check out all our book reviews in Quintessential Reading: Career and Job Book Reviews.