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Influencing versus Persuasion

If you are a leader, chances are that you have used both influence and persuasion at different times to bring about changes in your organization as well as your employees. When you look at both characteristics, primarily you believe them to be the same, given that they both are useful in guiding and shaping the behavior and attitude of your employees. However, both traits have certain inherent differences, which if understood, will help a leader employ them better. 

Primarily, influence is said to occur, when changes in a behavior is a result of another person's presence. Usually, in these circumstances, there is no verbal communication between the parties. Often it is the reputation and the respect of the other individual or the leader, which brings about the behavioral or attitude change in the employee. 

Persuasion, on the other hand, is often due to verbal communication. It requires the employer or leader to put forth arguments that would help sway the employee towards accepting the view of the leader. It is often seen that people who get persuaded well are often highly motivated to complete their tasks. 

So, the first point of difference between influence and persuasion is that influence is silent while persuasion is verbal. 

When looking at influence and persuasion as a method of driving your employees to perform better, it is important to note that both are extremely sensitive to time. In other words, it is important for any employer or leader to know when s/he has to exert influence and when s/he has to persuade. Often it is seen that influence is the better choice, given that it comes out of respect and reputation. Chances of influences staying on and not requiring a further push are more likely on a long term basis as compared to persuasion. 

Similarly, it is important to note that too much of persuasion would create an atmosphere of distrust amongst the employees with respect to the leader. This is because if persuasive techniques are overused, the leader comes across as a manipulator, which could result in lowering of trust, thus making the entire exercise futile. Influence, on the other hand, has no such problem, given that there is no verbal or direct demand for acquiescence. However, where persuasion is applied in an atmosphere of utmost trust, it is believed to be equally successful. 

Additionally, any changes that occur in behavior or attitude, which are attributed to influence, are often long term and stronger. This is because the change is from within, which refers to a direct need of the employee in question to change rather than a demand or request from the leader. 

In conclusion, it can be said that both influence and persuasion are an integral part of better leadership and a balance between both is the best way to get the optimum benefits. However, for either or both to be effective, it is important to understand when and what will work, and to what extent you should go to get the desired results.

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