Influencing from a Distance – Working with Virtual Teams

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For the past few years, although we all work virtually to some degree, we interact with each other very frequently. When you work virtually at the onset, it can be can be challenging in that it is about building trust but also to work on building a good working relations. When you start to work virtually, start by building a skills inventory of each team member (learning about competencies) and try to work with them to identify strengths and weaknesses. This helps to build trust and allows those in the virtual world to open up to you more. While there is a lot of recommendations on what to do, here are some things that you can result in negative behaviours.

Here are 5 of the most ineffective habits from experience that I would encourage you to stay away from and in turn replace with constructive behaviours. This is simple and intuitive stuff but again sometimes the bad habits surface and we walk away from conversations wishing we could have done better. Here are the 5 ineffective habits:

  • Do NOT be matter of fact and encourage conversation. This generally brings to mind talking. Take a interest in what people are saying and remember that your time will come to deliver your piece of information. By encouraging conversation, you are relaxing the environment for the individuals. This means you listen to the conversation, take in what they’ve said and add to it, passing the turn back to them to elaborate further. In fact, studies have shown that people who express interest in another’s and followed up with questions to encourage debate have a higher chance of influencing the person.
  • Do NOT forget the person / people names. Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. If you forget it, you are going to lose that engagement and sweet talk that we all crave when we are trying to influence. Remembering someone’s name has been shown to make people more likely to help you, more likely to buy from you, and is seen as a compliment.
  • Do NOT cut somebody off when they are talking about themselves. Whether we
  • want to admit it or not, we love to talk about ourselves. We like doing it, but when other people are doing it, the last thing they want is to be cut down. The lesson here is that if you want to make those you are trying to influence feel good, get them talking about themselves and their interests.
  • Do NOT be self-involved and focus on making others feel important. Making them feel important and place value on their thoughts and opinions, and can encourage them to engage more in the conversation. Ask questions to delve deeper into their thoughts, even though you make not be interested in the thoughts.
  • Do NOT feel you are superior and look for similarities. We prefer people who are like us. Don’t be surprised to find out that we like other people who we think are similar to us. We are more likely to become friends with people who we perceive as being similar to us. So the rationale should be that we are more likely to listen and take into account the opinion of others who we are similar to.

Can you influence, without doubt we can and we should have no problem in doing so. The problem is that often time we go feet first without the recognition of our environment and what triggers those around is. To influence is to know the other party … to know the other party takes effort and time.

When discussing a subject that you feel strongly about, there is nothing wrong with stating your thoughts and feelings on the topic. Even if others disagree with your views. The thing to be conscious of is the preparation prior to it.

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