We have all had that moment at work. The one where we need to get a colleague or team member on board with our idea, but we need the positional authority to make them do it. It can be frustrating. However, you may not have the formal power to make decisions that affect your team or workplace, but that does not mean you cannot still be a powerful force for change. There are many ways to influence those around you, even without having an official title or position.
What is Influence?
Influence is the capacity or power of persons or things to act or produce an effect on others. In other words, it is the ability to effect change in the behavior of others. It can be positive or negative, though the latter is generally more memorable and significant.
There are two key aspects to influence: getting someone’s attention to take action. Attention is about capturing someone’s interest and getting them focused on you and your message. Action is about motivating them to do what you want them to do.
To be effective, you need to understand what motivates people and craft a message or act in a way that speaks to their interests, values, and needs.
You also need to make sure your actions back up your words so that people trust that you are genuine and sincere in your desire to help others.
Why is Influence important in the workplace?
We do not always agree with our colleagues on everything in the workplace. But if we find ways to influence them positively — by appealing to their values and shared goals, for example — we can succeed as a team.
At the end of the day, it is all about creating a culture of trust and respect where everyone is working towards a common goal.
So, Influence determines how successful we will be in achieving our goals. We can persuade and be persuaded based on the level of our Influence.
Those with less Influence find it challenging to get their ideas heard and enacted, while the ones with more Influence usually have an enormous impact on their colleagues, team, and company.
There are ways that you can influence those around you, even if you do not have any formal authority. Here are 16 examples of Influence:
1. Speaking with conviction
Speaking with conviction does not mean yelling, domineering or booming voice. It means speaking with certainty and purpose. Trying to talk too forcefully will often have the opposite effect, making you sound insincere or like you are trying too hard.
The best way to influence people is by speaking in a measured tone and being clear and concise. Make sure your points are well articulated and easy to understand.
And take a moment to pause after making each point so that your listener has time to digest what you have said.
Most importantly, stay calm and collected no matter how heated the discussion may become, and never lose sight of what you want to achieve from the conversation.
2. Be a positive role model
One way to become a leader is by setting the right example for others. As a leader, your actions speak louder than words. People tend to mimic the behaviors of those they respect and look up to.
Suppose you want to be a positive role model for others. In that case, it is crucial to be authentic and genuine in your actions, exemplify resilience in the face of adversity, and maintain a positive outlook even when things are tough.
In addition, try to see problems as opportunities for growth and development instead of viewing them as obstacles or setbacks.
Positivity is contagious – people will look up to you for guidance and direction, so always be positive and behave in a way that is respectful, honest, and ethical.
Read also: 15 Examples of Commitments
3. Providing credible information
One example of Influence includes using credible sources of information. When you can back up your arguments or points with data or factual information, it lends your words more weight and makes them harder to ignore.
Another effective technique is to use stories or personal anecdotes to illustrate your points. People are much more likely to remember and be influenced by narratives than abstract concepts or statistics.
If you can find a way to make your arguments relevant to the person you are talking to, you will be much more successful in getting them to listen and take your ideas seriously.
4. Using body language and verbal cues to communicate
Use body language and verbal cues to show interest in what the other person is saying. It demonstrates that you are paying attention and builds rapport. Nod your head to indicate that you are following along, maintaining eye contact, and mirroring the other person’s body language.
If you can, try paraphrasing what the other person has said to ensure you understand it well. Not only does this show that you are intelligent and engaged, but it also gives the other person an opportunity to clarify any points they may not have been clear about.
Finally, resist the urge to interrupt and avoid checking messages or looking at your phone while someone is talking. Doing this will create a rapport with the other person and increase your chances of influencing them.
5. Not giving orders
People can easily confuse asking for input with giving an order. So, make sure you are clear about what you need – for example, you might say, “I need your help on this,” instead of “Do this.” You can also use phrases such as “What do you think?” or “How would you approach this?” to get people’s ideas without sounding bossy.
And, if someone offers an opinion, you disagree with, thank them for their input — even if you do not take their advice.
6. Presenting ideas respectfully
Always remember that you are one of many with good opinions or ideas. Your colleagues or team members may have valuable insights or better suggestions to improve your argument or vision. So, when presenting your ideas, try to be respectful and open to feedback.
There are several reasons why doing that is a good strategy. First and foremost, it demonstrates respect for your colleagues and invites them to participate in the discussion or decision-making process.
It also allows you to get feedback on your ideas and determine whether they are viable. Ideas that are subjected to rigorous scrutiny tend to be stronger and more likely to succeed than those that are simply announced without input from others.
Finally, it shows that you are willing to listen and compromise — two essential qualities in any successful workplace relationship.
Read more: 16 Examples of Taking Responsibility at Work
7. Using visual aids to illustrate your point
Other good examples of influencing include appealing to people’s emotions, using visual aids such as graphs and charts to illustrate your point visually – backing up your argument, or highlighting the benefits of taking a specific action.
This will not only help ensure that your message is understood, but it will also capture people’s attention.
Visuals are more memorable than words alone and can simplify complex information to make it more easily digestible. Also, when using visuals, you can create a stronger emotional connection with your audience and get them on board with your ideas.
8. Presenting a concise vision
A clear and concise vision is necessary to inspire someone to help you achieve your goal. When people see a tangible outcome worth their effort, they will want to get on board with you.
Try to make it personal for them — let them know how their skills and talents could help you reach the goal. You could create a strong sense of excitement by showing them what the future could look like if they joined you.
Envisioning the future in this way also makes it feel within reach, which can be motivating in and of itself.
9. Using power words
Powerful words can be highly persuasive when influencing someone’s thoughts or actions. Certain words can stir emotions and create a sense of urgency, leading to critical thinking and positive change.
In that context, passionate, urgent, and pressing are powerful words, so using them in your conversations with others can be incredibly beneficial.
When you need someone on your side or persuade them to take action, language that emotes urgency and importance can be the difference between success and failure.
10. Disarming people with humor
Disarm people with humor where possible, but be careful not to offend. People will listen to you and take your suggestions seriously if they like and respect you. And one of the best ways to achieve that is by using humor.
But be careful not to cross the line and offend people. Everyone has a different sense of humor, and what may seem funny to you may not be funny to the other person. You must know them well.
You want to avoid inadvertently insulting someone or causing a rift in the team by making a joke that falls flat. A little wit and charm can go a long way, but use caution until you know how people will respond.
So, always think hard before making a joke, and make sure that it is respectful and appropriate for the situation.
Read also: 15 Examples of Taking Ownership
11. Avoiding using threats or ultimatums
If you need a favor from someone at work, support on a project, or even just their time, try finding a way to ask for it without making them feel threatened.
Threats or ultimatums will only make the other person defensive and less likely to cooperate. Instead, try to influence the person more positively by appealing to their sense of values and common goals whenever possible.
Everyone has specific core values that are important to them, so find a way to connect your request with one of those values.
For example, if you need your colleague to stay late to help you with a project, you could say, “I know you are busy, but this is important, and I will appreciate your help.” Another example is, if you need help with a project, try saying something like, “I was wondering if you could help me with this project. I’m not sure where to start.”
By framing it in terms of the other person’s values (helping others and being productive) or in a diplomatic way), they will be responsive. Show appreciation for any cooperation you do receive, no matter how small.
12. Supporting people’s goals
It can be hard to stay motivated when our goals do not perfectly align with those of our boss or colleagues. We all have unique goals, desires, and perspectives.
But if you want to be seen as supportive and team-oriented, it is vital to find ways of encouraging others even when their goals do not match up with yours.
If you cannot support someone’s goals, keeping your opinions to yourself is best. Telling someone their wrong or misguided goals will make them resent you or not listen to you again. So, try to offer them guidance and constructive criticism in a respectful way.
13. Exhibiting a willingness to listen
Always listen and show genuine interest in what the person is saying. Refrain from interrupting and ensure you understand what the person is saying before you offer any input.
Avoid making assumptions — if you do not understand something, ask for clarification.
Do not interrupt; wait until the other person has finished speaking before you offer your thoughts. People will appreciate your willingness to listen and learn.
14. Anticipating objections
There are a few ways to anticipate and answer objections before colleagues raise them. You need to understand your colleague’s perspectives and figure out what will be holding them back from supporting your idea in the first place.
Once you know their motivation, you can frame your response in terms of how the objection benefits them or address their concerns head-on before they have a chance to raise them.
The first is to try to figure out what they might think. This can be difficult, but if you can, it will help you to preempt any objections or concerns they may have. So, ask yourself what the objection might be before making your argument.
For example, before you propose a new idea, try to think of all the potential reasons someone might not want to go along with it, and then have counterarguments ready.
Another way is to preempt your colleagues on what they think if you introduce changes – for example, by showing them that you have already considered their points and have plans to mitigate potential issues.
If you can show that you have thoughtfully planned for change and are acting in the team’s best interests, you will find it much easier to garner support for your ideas.
Also read: 16 Character Traits of a Hard Worker
15. Finding common ground
Finding common ground with someone can be difficult, especially if you do not know them very well. However, you can do a few things to increase the chances of finding common ground and establishing a rapport.
First, try to find out what the person is interested in. You can ask them about their job, family, hobbies, and other things. Once you know what the person enjoys talking about, you can focus on shared interests and build off of that.
Another way to connect with someone is to ask them for advice or help. People love to feel needed and appreciated, so asking for help will make the person feel good and desire to support you.
16. Appealing to people’s sense of reasoning
Most people want to be seen as intelligent and reasonable, not irrational. It is their way of maintaining their self-image and boosting their ego. So, appealing to their sense of reason and logic is the most effective way to get them to listen and agree with you.
You play to their strengths when you appeal to their sense of reason and logic. You also show that you respect them enough to engage them on their level.
Appealing to someone’s sense of reason and logic is more effective in influencing them than appealing to their emotions. If you appeal to someone’s emotions, you may get what you want in the short term, but they may feel manipulated in the long term.
Also, when you appeal to someone’s emotions, it can be difficult for them to think objectively about the situation, leading them to make bad decisions. But when you appeal to their sense of reason and logic, they can weigh all the facts and make a sound decision.
Remember, even if you are not the boss, you can still influence those around you at work. When you talk less and listen more, be a solution-finder, and use your emotional intelligence, you can be a powerful influence regardless of your position in the team or company.
Leadership is not always about having formal authority over others; sometimes, it is about influencing those around you to get things done.