If you’ve been reading the Engaging Executive blog and LinkedIn posts this month, you’re pretty familiar with the “Pull” style of influence. If you’ve missed some of our previous discussions, however, it’s not that difficult to pick up. The Pull style simply is a way to influence your listener (or, in many cases your colleagues and coworkers), by “pulling” them in the direction you want them to go, through a series of carefully constructed questions. Rather than pushing them in the intended direction through commands and assertive behaviour, you’re gently guiding them in a friendly, unobtrusive manner.

If you think that this method sounds a little bit difficult, you’re not alone, but it’s a lot easier than you think. It doesn’t take much forethought once you get into the practice, and you’ll find that it’s pretty easy to use to encourage and inspire those around you to take positive actions.

A few days ago, I was having a coaching call with a client, and we were discussing the Pull method. It was during this conversation that this particular client was able to share with me a perfect example of how she’s been able to implement the Pull style in her own personal life.

My client was at home one evening when she received a call from one of her work colleagues, who was pretty distressed over some workplace problems. Without the Pull style, my client would have probably just dived right into “solutioneering” mode, where she would basically try to help her colleague by asserting potential solutions, without really understanding the problem in its entirety.

However, my client stopped her initial reaction, and started using the Pull technique. All she needed to do was begin asking question after question, to help her colleague discover a great solution all on her own. The call started off with the colleague saying everything about her future was bleak. However, through the process of asking open-ended, carefully worded questions, my client actually enabled her colleague to start seeing how her current work problems could be opportunities in disguise. The tone of the conversation went from one of doom and gloom, to hope and opportunity. Her colleague left the conversation feeling motivated to explore the situation, and my client left feeling confident in her leadership capabilities and influence.

Through her series of gentle questioning, she was able to truly understand what was important to her colleage, and what was really bothering her, and then help to lead her through even more questions to what she knew would be in her colleage’s best interest. She was really able to see how her patience, active listening and clever questioning through the Pull method was able to help her colleage.

This isn’t some rare instance of success, though. Engaging Executives who have mastered the Pull method can use it to see results like this every single day.

Don’t think you have what it takes to be this kind of influential leader? Take the ENGAGE questionnaire and see where your strengths lie…and where you need a little extra help. You may just be closer to becoming an Engaging Executive than you thought.