We all use combinations of influence styles to meet our objectives. But some situations will call for you to stay rooted in a specific style.

There are certain words and phrases associated with each influence behaviour, which can help trigger the kind of conversation you want to have. If you’re being assertive, you might start a conversation with words like ‘I want you to . . .‘ Whereas if you’re trying to pull a colleague towards your way of thinking, you’re more likely to start with ‘What I see us doing is . . .’

Language is only half the battle – your delivery, tone of voice and body language, will be key factors in whether you are successful. And our participants practise their influence skills through some exercises that focus on one style, and others that require more subtle combinations.

Here we have what might be called a standard peer-to-peer situation – an attempt to speed up reports. It shows how you might tackle the same problem in a variety of ways.


“I’d like to suggest that you prepare your team meeting reports so that they can be presented in ten minutes or less.”

“Your past reports have been accurate. In fact, concerns that you have raised have pointed directly to problems that needed to be fixed. However, the minutes of our team meetings indicate that your presentations consume more than 50 percent of available meeting time. In two of the last three meetings, we were unable to cover our entire agenda. As a result, the team was unable to settle on an implementation plan to handle your recommendations. You yourself have voiced this concern about vague action plans.”

“I believe that a short, highly focused report will drive the team to action on your recommendations and still allow us to cover our entire meeting agenda.”


“I really enjoy how thorough and well organised your presentations are in team meetings.”

“But you take up so much time that I lose momentum and feel under pressure to concentrate on other agenda items.”

“I need you to cut your report time in half.”

“If you’ll cut your actual report time, I’ll work hard to make sure the other team members give you their full attention at each meeting.”

“But if you can’t keep your presentations short, I’ll start interrupting with requests to you for quick summary statements.”


“Remember after the last team meeting, we spoke together about how the meeting went. If I remember our discussion, you were particularly distressed that the team had not agreed to an action plan on your recommendations. And I was concerned about not completing our agenda.”

“I suspect that you might see me as too concerned about time and process in team meetings. I’m really puzzled at how to keep our meetings short and to the point.”

“What are some things you might do with your own reports during the meeting that might help keep us all on track?”


“I know that we both share a concern that the team meetings are often unfocused and time pressured. The two of us always begin meetings with great enthusiasm for moving ahead, and we often emerge discouraged and confused. We’ve even talked together about how we want team meetings to be better.”

“You know, with your skill at structure and precision and my ability to facilitate the discussion, we could make a big difference. Imagine the entire team leaving the next review meeting feeling like we could move mountains. Every one of us knows exactly what to do next, and we’re really enthused about the plan. Every presentation has been on target. We’re so focused that we not only had time for all agenda points, but we even brainstormed some terrific innovative solutions. What do you see in that picture? Let’s put our heads together and talk about how we’ll make it happen.”