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Exercising Influence: A Guide for Making Things Happen at Work, at Home, and in Your Community, 3rd Edition by B. Kim Barnes

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Chapter 6Influencing in ActionA World of Possibilities

The law of nature is, do the thing, and you shall have the power: but they who do not do the thing have not the power.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Responding to Opportunities

There is no shortage of influence opportunities. You're limited only by time, energy, or expectations. These opportunities come in many forms. Sometimes they occur during formal or informal meetings. Sometimes they arise spontaneously over a meal or around the coffee machine in the office. For example, someone you would like to influence may offer you opportunities such as

  • A request for ideas or solutions
  • A complaint about the status quo
  • An expression of uncertainty or confusion
  • A casual remark that touches on a subject of interest

We frequently ignore these opportunities—sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for bad reasons.

Some good reasons to turn down an opportunity to influence include

  • Your experience or intuition suggests that the person is not open to influence right now.
  • The issue is not important enough to you to offset the effort or the risk that you anticipate would be involved.
  • The timing isn't right and you believe you would be more effective after a change in the situation (the other person's need becomes greater, you have an opportunity to get others' support, you can plan and practice an effective approach, etc.).
  • You believe that you're not in a legitimate position to exercise influence on this issue with this person (for example, ...

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