How to Influence People at Work: Getting the Team Behind Your Ideas

January 19, 2018

Man demonstrates how to influence people at work during meeting.

Who is your greatest role model for your career? No matter who you look up to, the one characteristic they’re sure to possess is the ability to influence others. Influencers have the unique ability to combine their skills with the charming charisma it takes to win people over. As out of reach as it might seem, anyone can become an influencer with the right mindset and approach.

When you’re in a group that’s making an important decision, you need to make your voice heard. Developing influencer skills allows you to direct conversations, bring up important points and give your opinion weight. What’s more, influencers serve as inspiration for others and help teams perform at their best. Want to increase your clout around the workplace? Read on for our tips to make it happen.

Throw Out Your Preconceived Ideas of Influence

When most people think of influencers, the first people who come to mind are individuals who have positions of authority. It seems correct — a boss can assign a task, attend important meetings and reprimand other employees. In these respects, executives and bosses do have some level of influence on others. Yet, a job title alone does not capture the deeper meaning of being an influencer.

True influencers earn the respect of others through their actions. Whether a CEO or a relatively new employee, people listen to influencers because they trust their judgment, not because they have to. Instead of behaving how they think a boss would, influencers are consistently honest and empathetic towards the needs of others. If you want to be an influencer, forget about being authoritarian — it’s likely to backfire.

Find Your Voice

In a group setting such as a meeting, there’s no getting around it — you’re going to have to speak up to influence others. The key to success is doing so in a way that doesn’t come off as crass or arrogant. All too often, those looking to be influential will use their voice as a weapon to drown out everyone else. Instead of getting others to listen to their opinion, this behavior has the opposite effect. It creates tension in the room, and there’s never any doubt about who is creating it.

Instead, speak assertively with enough conviction to make your point clear, but no more. There should always be a sense of confidence behind your words because if you don’t believe them, why should anyone else? Never speak over others and never raise your voice to drive home a point. These actions are unnecessary and diminish your authority. Showing tenacity while avoiding rudeness can be difficult, but it’s a sight to behold when a skilled influencer pulls it off correctly.

Show Flexibility

It’s essential to stand by your beliefs, but it’s also important to show that you have the ability to compromise. There will always be meetings where you cannot come to an agreement, and in these situations you have two options:

  1. Stick to your guns and try to make the others feel silly for having a different opinion.
  2. Prove that you respect the opinions of others, even if you don’t agree with them.

You cannot win every argument, and trying to do so will only make you appear stubborn or overly zealous in your beliefs. Yes, you might get your way more often than not, but this comes at the cost of your true influence. It’s human nature to take personal opinions, and attacks on them, very seriously. Influencers are humble enough to realize they cannot always be right and that pretending they are does more harm than good. You never have to outright say another opinion is wrong — simply accept compromises every so often and you will gain respect.

Be Human

To some people, the idea of becoming an influencer sounds like gaining a superpower. In reality, some of the key factors in gaining influence at work involve simple human interactions. “Likeable” is an adjective that describes nearly all influencers, and it’s no coincidence that these people possess impressive social skills.

Being socially successful is not about inflating your ego or number of friends; you don’t even have to hang out with your coworkers outside of the office. It’s about becoming approachable and personable, so people feel like they can talk to you about nearly anything. If you isolate yourself too much, you risk alienating the very people you are trying to influence. Additionally, building relationships with coworkers just makes day-to-day life more enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to start some friendly conversations!

Start a New Path

As we mentioned, anyone can become an influencer. Sometimes it takes some ongoing guidance and support to change the way others perceive you in the office. Our team is ready to bring out the influencer in you, so contact us today to get the help it takes to succeed!

By: Gary Cohen

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