How can I influence a peer over whom I have no authority?

by Sam on December 14, 2010

Answer: Draft a set of the expectations you believe this peer has of you. These would be the behaviors as well as the products of those behaviors that he/she counts on receiving from you.

Present the list in this way. “Chris, I’ve been thinking lately about what you need from me in your role here at ACME. How accurately does this list reflect the ways you count on me to support your success?”

Chris will hopefully appreciate what you’ve done, and may want some time to look at the expectations you’ve crafted. At the appropriate time for your relationship, make this request. “May I ask you to do the same? That is, to write the expectations you believe I have of you in support of my responsibilities?”

The next step is for each of you to validate the accuracy of the other’s list. Meet to discuss the revisions each of you would make in order to be able to say, “Yes, that’s what I need from you.” At this point you will have gone a long way toward answering the question at the top of this page. And without having a confrontation with Chris!

If the relationship can handle more, agree to come together once again to provide feedback to each other on how well your respective requirements are being fulfilled. Let Chris choose from one of two methods to do that.

One is for each of you to assign a green “light” (completely fulfilled), yellow “light” (partially fulfilled), or red “light” (unfulfilled) marker to each of your expectations of the other. Follow this with specific vows to do better for each other on the red lights, and possibly yellow lights.

Another approach is for each of you to assign “oranges” to the three expectations on the list that are most fully met and “lemons” to the three expectations that are least fully met. In this case vow to take the steps necessary to sweeten the lemons for each other.

Regardless of how you choose to assess fulfillment of your respective expectations, the final step in the process is to meet again in three months to give each other feedback on how well the vows are being honored.

Engage in this process with good intent and you’ll both appreciate the results while being more successful because of it. If either of you bring a hidden agenda, it’s likely to fail.

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