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Influence skills can help you meet personal objectives and maintain or build positive working relationships-simultaneously. Your challenge as an influencer is to pursue your objectives while fostering the stability and growth of your working relationships. High-impact influence skills, style flexibility, and disciplined planning will help you achieve this balance between objectives and relationships in most situations.

Achieving a balance between objectives and relationships may be difficult when you and the target have strong personal differences. Balancing task objectives with relationships is difficult enough when you and another person have competing objectives-a common occurrence. Maintaining this balance can be even more delicate when you and the other person have a history of personality clashes or deep interpersonal conflicts. Some working relationships may be so ruptured and disagreeable that no amount of influence can heal them.

Relationship problems may make you reluctant to engage in any influence attempt with the target. You and the target may lack sufficient positive motive for a successful outcome to occur. The potential costs of trying to influence the target may outweigh the potential benefits. You may feel so exploited by the target that taking steps to improve the relationship may not seem worth the risk. You may have difficulty even imagining what an effective influence approach might be. On the other hand, the influence target may have trouble working with you! Your awareness of this makes you unwilling to awaken his or her anger. Often, the relationship must improve before you and the other person can take any concrete next steps. Mutual respect and acceptance is necessary to ensure genuine agreements and commitments.

The hardest part of dealing with a relationship problem can be getting the other person’s commitment to resolve it. The person may have no interest in getting along with you and may even enjoy or derive power from causing you pain. Fortunately, you are not powerless in this situation. You can use positive power and influence to engage the person’s interest in getting on board with you to solve the interpersonal problem. You may have no choice, if your job requires you to interact with this person! Project assignments, business priorities, or other situational factors may drive you and the target together despite your best efforts to stay away from each other. By focusing on this joint work-the task you will increase your chances of improving the relationship.

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