Influencing People with a Dominant Personality

By March 24, 2015 December 12th, 2022 Common Business Problems

Last Updated on December 12, 2022 by Dave Schoenbeck

One of the biggest head-scratching challenges in business is to try and figure out how to effectively convince a dominant “type A” personality that your idea or product is worth considering.

First, let’s work through the list of some of the classic characteristics of this dominant personality type:

  • Loves to aggressively argue and lives to win
  • The 3 D’s: Daring, decisive, and domineering
  • Processes facts quickly and is ready to make a decision faster than you expect
  • Highly confident of their own abilities, skills, and instincts
  • Demonstrates an oversized ego and is a bit clueless about how others view it
  • High RPM motor. Moves fast, talks fast, and thinks fast
  • Loves a challenge, and the bigger – the better
  • Willing to take significant risks because of a personal belief that their judgement is usually right
  • Fearlessly challenges the status quo
  • Believes that achieving the task and goal trumps how it impacts people
  • Holds high expectations and overtly criticizes when results are bad

I will bet that you have a pretty good mental picture of this person. In fact, you probably have conjured up a name and muttered a few expletives about a former client or boss. Ironically, the dominant personality frequently leads organizations and becomes a decision maker because of their historic relentless pursuit of results. The American business community appreciates the do-whatever-it-takes leader that drives profitability and gets extraordinary execution.

The big question is… can you be more effective in influencing people that clearly exhibit a dominant personality?

I have 6 suggestions for you:

  1. Realize that the dominant personality intends to control the situation and you. Armed with this understanding, take a deep breath, and think about clever ways to engage, and influence without escalating into a blow for blow slugfest.
  2. Dominant people love it when you mirror their aggressiveness, as long as you don’t try and beat them. They really enjoy the swordplay as long as you are the only one that bleeds.
  3. Get to the point quickly. You are on the clock to make your influential pitch. They highly value their instincts so a well focused, logical suggestion that helps them see the win works the best. Relationship building is not first nature, so avoid a long warm-up.
  4. Never tell a dominant personality what to do. Pretend you are fishing for trout. Present the dry fly cleverly and let it attractively float down the stream in front of them. Your goal is to interest them with a crafty suggestion without being directive.
  5. Downsize your pile of facts, print-outs, and sales materials. If you want to influence a dominant personality, stay with a summary that is highly focused and clear. Think executive summary that starts with how they will benefit from your suggestion or products.
  6. Convince the dominant personality that your idea will beat the competition and be the catalyst for an advantage. Engage their innate instinct to get an edge.

One of my favorite thought leaders is John Maxwell. One of John’s famous quotes is…”leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” So my suggestions on how to influence a dominant personality suggests a bit of manipulation. I prefer to think that if you want to be more influential with a strategy or decision or successful selling your product, you should understand who you are selling to and how to get them to seriously value your pitch. That’s not manipulation. It’s called success.

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