Soft Skills for Business Analysts: Interaction

BABOK Splits Interaction Skills into 3 separate categories: 1) Facilitation and Negotiation 2) Leadership and Influencing 3) Teamwork.

This article focuses on Influencing.

Business Analysts will often find themselves in situations where they have to convince others of a certain position or influence them to carry out an activity. Where trust exists between stakeholders and the analyst, it is a lot easier to convince them to behave in a certain way. The role of the analyst involves reducing conflict and ensuring that stakeholders can set aside their personal objectives for the benefit of the project.

How can you build your influencing skills?

  1. Build Trust – Trust is the foundation of every relationship and should be nurtured. Don't break trust through lies and deceit.
  2. Empathize – Show your stakeholders that you understand how they feel. Express your commitment to their cause and they will be willing to listen to you. To really understand how stakeholders feel, you will need to ask the right questions and be willing to listen to them without bias.
  3. Know What Appeals to Others – Identify the objectives/goals of each stakeholder and be willing to show that your objectives coincide with theirs. Once they know that there is something in it for them, it will be easier to get their attention.
  4. Be Confident - The more confident you are, the more others will believe and accept your recommendations. 
  5. Know When to Raise Issues - Timing is key. Walking into a stakeholder's office when they are busy, tired or in a rush is probably not the best time to broach issues. 

Influencing is an indispensable skill when it comes to dealing with stakeholders. Invest time in building your influence within the team and it will certainly pay off.