Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Influencing People: Bridge Building.

Bridge building is the process of increasing rapport and affinity between people. It can involve making the other party feel at ease in talking with you, gaining their trust, and identifying common interests. Bridge building is important in influencing because people are more likely to agree with someone they like, trust, or see as “one of them.” Aside from bridges improving the over-all communication between two parties, they can also serve as negotiating grounds. Bridges translate to common interests which can be the foundation of win-win scenarios. The following are some of the ways in which you can build bridges in your interpersonal relationships:
Active Listening
If you want to gain another person’s trust, you have to communicate that you value their presence and that you are exerting the effort to understand what they are saying to you. Listening attentively is a way to do this.
Use Common Language
An indirect way of building bridges is showing by your words, manner of speaking, and even body language that you are one with the other person. For example, use business language when you’re speaking with the company CEO, but use laymen-terms when speaking with blue-collared workers. Pay attention to how others phrase statements.  If they are formal,be formal, and if they are casual, then follow suit. Similarly, attend to their pace of doing business. Some people like to relax before a deal; others like to go straight to business. Adjust your approach accordingly.
Highlight Similarities
No matter how differently two people appear, they will always have at least one thing in common. If you want to persuade a person, find these areas of similarities and emphasize them. An important similarity to emphasize is common interests --- goals that you both share and that the proposal you’re pitching can address. The skill of “seeing the other side” can assist you in this process. 
Sustained Communication
Lastly, consistent and sustained communication about matters of interest can help you in influencing other people. If you feel that there is significant resistance to you or to your proposal or there are marked differences between you and the other person, continue to meet with the person and open communication lines. Sometimes, your mere visibility in another person’s circle can increase your likability and credibility.
Until next time...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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