Disability Advice

Reviews and advice for disabled people by disabled people.

Tools and techniques for Parents and Carers part 3


How to influence others and ask for what you need.

As I mentioned in my first article back in June there are many times you will need to influence others as a carer and it is worth mapping out who and what they are. They may well include local doctors and hospital specialists, charities and other people involved with care.

In this article I’m going to talk about some techniques that help influence and get what you need in a situation.

Being Assertive

Sometimes you need to be assertive to get the service provision and resources you need. As opposed to being passive and just accepting what you are told or given or aggressive where you disrespect or bully others, assertive people recognise the rights of both themselves and others.

Assertive people let others people know:

  1. What they think
  2. How they feel
  3. Where they stand
  4. What they want

For example, a consultant may seem to be pushing hard for a particular course of action and you want to get more options you might say:

  1. I think you have a clear idea of what procedure you  want to have follow,
  2. I feel unsure that is the best or only option,
  3. I stand for always making the best long term choices and considering all options,
  4. I’d like to consider all the alternatives available so I’d like you to let me know what they are or refer me to others for this information.

Here are some assertiveness skills:

  • Make clear and honest statements.  Use the first person, “I” when expressing your own thoughts, feelings and expressions.  Check to be sure that people have clearly understood your meaning. Be descriptive and objective. 
  • Eliminate guessing by letting people know what you want.  Offer relevant information without being asked.  Take the initiative to clarify your values, expectations and decisions. Be positive.  Talk about what you want, not about what you do not want.  Give clear instructions or suggestions.  
  • Paraphrase what you are hearing.  This will ensure that you accurately understand what the speaker is saying.  Be specific and succinct.  Talk about exactly what you want.  Ensure that your message is short and pithy, not lost in lengthy speeches
  • Take time out.  If you are not sure what you want to say, ask to continue the discussion at a later stage.  Similarly, if you need additional information, ask for time to find out the answer before informing them of the answer.  Don’t just guess!

To be influential in we also need rapport.

How do you build rapport?

  1. By taking a genuine interest in another person
  2. By being curious about who they are and what they think
  3. By being willing to see the world from their point of view

You pace and build rapport through matching.

Matching is when you mirror and complement an aspect of another person. It is not copying; it is more like a dance.  They will intuitively recognise this, you will feel more at ease with them and they will feel more at ease with you.

You can match body language, the voice (in terms of pace and volume) and use similar language. It is exactly like walking beside them at the same pace. Once you have paced another person, established rapport and shown that you understand where they are coming from, then you have the chance to influence them.

Use the techniques of Assertiveness with rapport and see what a difference it can make to getting the help and support you need.

Next time I will talk about how you can use a simple influencing structure and also a tool for looking at situations from different points of view.

Toby Buckle

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