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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 20Influencing IndirectlyInfluencing beyond Your Boundaries

The best effect of fine persons is felt after we have left their presence.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

What Is Indirect Influence?

Indirect influence means simply that you keep your influence objective in mind and take some action other than dealing directly with the person or group whom you wish to influence. This can mean either that you work through other people or that you use other means to accomplish your objective. Indirect influence is normally done in the open, however, and should not be confused with manipulation, in which your motivations and agenda are intentionally hidden.

When Is Indirect Influence Appropriate?

Most of the time it will be easier to influence others directly. Here are some situations in which that may not be as effective:

  • You don't have access to the target person or group because of political, geographic, language, cultural, or other considerations.
  • You don't currently have a good influence relationship with the other person, and the issue is urgent enough that you don't have the time to build one.
  • You are not perceived by the other to have the relevant knowledge, expertise, or status that would be the appropriate power sources for this influence issue.
  • The issue is a major one, and you simply don't have the power to be effective directly.
  • You have been using direct methods and have hit a snag or are at an impasse.

These situations and others like them will lead you to consider other ...

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