Improving your personal leverage, understanding “Push and Pull” Influencing.

Improving your personal leverage. To influence someone effectively; to have an effect on the character, development or behaviour of someone or something, you first need to understand where they stand.

Where is the other person in relation to your idea?

In relation to your idea, you need to be clear whether they are diametrically opposed, negative, neutral, positive or in total agreement with you. One then needs to be realistic about how far you can realistically expect the person to move. If they are totally against you, it’s not realistic to expect them to become a complete advocate.

You should be looking at moving people one or two steps from their original position. The most dangerous place to try and influence someone is when they are completely with you. The only way they can go is backwards, so if you have someone who is an absolute advocate, don’t try and influence them. remember you are aiming at improving your personal leverage.

What you say?

After understanding where the person is, you then need to construct a plan. The stages of which are:

  1. The grab – This is where you really want to capture someone’s attention to make sure they are listening with their eyes and ears
  2. The idea itself – You need to explain really clearly what you’re after and what this looks like
  3. WIFM – What’s In It For Me? What’s the benefit to the individual you are trying to sell to?
  4. Evidence – Facts and other forms of evidence that support your idea
  5. Objections – Think about as many possible objections to the idea. What’s really going to be a deal breaker and how might you counter that
  6. Summarise – Talk back what you just said to the other person

This is the second stage in improving your personal leverage.

How you behave

Having a strong voice.

Not using ums and urs, know what I mean.

Make appropriate eye contact.

Good use of gesture, i.e. body language that is positive and supports your message.

Allow silence, as this is an opportunity to encourage the other person to be engaged, rather than filling the gap with meaningless noise.

Use open questions.


The behavioural stage is where improving your personal leverage is most likely to fail. You MUST be convincing.


Push styles

These are about carrot and stick, and driving someone to change rather than allowing them to come
to the change naturally. These styles usually get some movement, but don’t really change hearts and minds. We can look at push styles as lighting a fire underneath someone.

  1.  Force – This happens or else, and is used most when there is danger, i.e. jump out of the window. If it’s used a lot, people stop thinking for themselves and unable to make decisions, plus can feel resentful. This style leads to a compliant rather than innovative workforce.
  2. Swap shop – “I’ll give you this, if you do that”. This is ok if you have some room for manoeuvre, but if you use it too much the price goes up! In the short term this is alright, but over a long period of time, you’ll have to increase the reward to get the result.
  3. Applying rules – “It’s the law that you must do….”, and you’d use this if there was a risk that a task wasn’t being completed in a proper way, but can get mindless compliance and kills innovation.
  4. Persuading – This is when you have a logical argument that you put forward clearly. This is what experts do, and this will work as long as someone believe you’re an expert.
  5. Assertiveness – When you use your personal wishes to influence people, i.e. “Please could you do this for me?” This is alright if the course of action is reasonably straight forward and both parties can see the purpose of the intended outcome. People will go along with this style for a period of time, but their heart may not be in it.

Careful selection here is imperative in improving your personal leverage



Pull styles

These are about enabling the individual to want to change, and as such are much more empowering, and have long lasting movement and motivation. This is like lighting fires within people.

  1. Painting a picture – Using language to allow other people to see what things might be like, which is great if there is a good, clear outcome and then can motivate and inspire and allow people to travel the journey with you.
  2. Your mojo – Using your charisma, personality and charm to get people to respond to you. They respect you and know you are generally right and so will follow you.
  3. Moving the goal posts – You tweak the environment to try and encourage people to do things for you, i.e. don’t drink so much at home, by moving the beer from the kitchen fridge to the one in the shed. It becomes more difficult, time consuming or needs more motivation
  4. Empathy – Supporting, listening and engaging other people, which can be used with some of the pushing styles, such as asserting or persuading.
  5. Two heads are better than one – Collaborating with others. This takes time and energy as well as skill.


Both sets of styles may have equally valid uses. You will probably need a blend of both, thus improving your personal leverage.