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The power of persuasion: building influence in the workplace

Influencing people at work

Posted by: sarah-hardy

Business Strategy

Have you ever wondered how some people seem to be able to persuade others to do anything? It can be awe inspiring to see this particular skill at work, but there are simple techniques that you can apply that will help you to build influence quite easily. Certainly some seem to have innate ability in this area, but there are plenty of influencers out there who have had to work on their powers of persuasion.

Here are some quick tips on how to build influence in your workplace:

1) Start by building trust and relationships

This one is crucial. You’re never going to have any influence if people do not trust you. You need to be open, honest and consistent before you gain buy-in for your ideas. As trust in the workplace is something of a tricky subject at the moment, you need to make this your primary focus.

2) Make sure that your ideas are worth pushing

This one requires a little self-awareness. Do you really need 53 ping pong tables for your team of 6? Do you truly believe that you should pitch your local grocery business in the same way that Apple pitches iPhones because ‘it works for them’? Dig deep. Of course, if you believe that they really are in the best interests of the company, and are not just part of a personal ego trip, stick with them and:

3) Remember that actions speak louder than words

If you really want people to pay attention and agree to your suggestions, you need to back your words up with real-life examples and actions. Simply telling people that your way is the best/the greatest won’t always work; depending on their characters, some people will need a little bit of evidence that you can walk the walk.

4) Listen to other people

Listen to other people’s views on what you are trying to achieve, and add their ideas to your plans if necessary. If people are vocally against your ideas, you may need to think about whether or not now is the right time for them to be launched. By collaborating with other team members, you will build more of that crucial trust, and in showing that you are open and willing to be flexible can only serve to improve how people see you.

Influencing skills come with great responsibility

The ability to influence others is a powerful skill, so we do well to remember the phrase ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. The warning here is that it can be extremely easy to cross the line between persuasion and manipulation, and the latter is something that no workplace should be exposed to.

In a way, we could argue that all persuasion is a form of manipulation, but when you look into it, you find that the main difference between the two is intent. Robin Dreeke, former head of behavioural analysis at the FBI says “As long as they feel better for having met you, that’s influence. And they’ll want to meet again”.

Being manipulated leaves people feeling cold and uneasy, whereas real influence leaves them wanting to be part of your vision.

Bearing these points in mind, you can go forth and influence in a way that builds other people up, and benefits the whole team or organisation! Of course, there are tips out there for things like what body language and which words to use to boost influence, but really, as long as you are promoting good working relationships and mutual trust, the sky is the limit.

What are your experiences of building influence in the workplace? Tell us in the comments!