The workplace can be a political arena. No matter how hard-working or great you are at what you do, you can become unstuck the moment you are teamed alongside others.
As the saying goes “no man is an island” and this is extremely true in the workplace. Each industry is different but the pretence is the same.
I myself am an independent worker and while I am good at influencing I have had to learn over the years to communicate and work as a team in order to fit into the corporate world and in fact make a success of my coaching business.
However, one thing that comes up time and time again when coaching my clients is to find the career that works for them. You need to either want to change industries or expand your skills, or you need to be fully confident in what type of role you are looking for. Do not try to be something you are not because you will spend your time being a square peg in a round hole, and that doesn’t work for anyone.
However, in order to be a good at what you do regardless of level or industry, you need to be able to influence. Once you have this mastered you can move into any job that suits you but this skill is a fundamental.
As they say, “communication is the key….”so let me give you 3 tips to influencing others in the workplace and let me know how it works for you.
1. Listen before speaking.
A statement used by religious speakers to many self-development coaches, is that ‘we have 2 ears and 1 mouth – acknowledge it.’ It is something I have really connected with and in order to influence effectively we need to strive to understand our colleagues and clients before we speak. So many times in life as well as our careers we want the other person to hear us, we want to demonstrate how much we know and how much we can offer.
What we need to spend more time doing is asking the other person what they want and then we can respond with a more bespoke, tailored approach.
2. Ask yourself, are you credible?
If you want to influence you need to know what you are talking about. Alternatively, be honest when you are unsure.
I know many people say to ‘fake it until you make it.’ That is fine in principle but be careful. Never call yourself an expert unless you can back it up and if you have any doubts on your response then be courageous to say ‘I may need to double check these figures/notes/details’. No one will hold that against you but you will lose all ability to influence in the future if you give inaccurate information and are found out.
3. Practice Communicating.
You do not need to have the skills of a Politician to influence people but you do need to practice. It may seem strange speaking to yourself in the mirror but I always encourage my clients to practice their communication skills.
First impressions mean a lot and if you want to come across as an authentic leader then you need to be confident, rehearsed and able to deliver an authentic, personal impact.
I remember when I first started public speaking I used to speak extremely quickly. I didn’t notice it at the time but people would comment on it to me after seminars.
Over the course of a couple of months I practised every day in front of a mirror and I timed myself reading the same script with the goal to increase my time each day. I found places to pause and where to take a breath.
It worked and it’s something I don’t think about any more when I give talks. However I am extremely appreciative of those people that stepped forward and gave me honest feedback. Ask people close to you what they think of your public speaking skills, ask them to be honest, and then practice. Even if they give you good feedback you can never practice enough to be better at what you do.
I hope you find these useful. One of the easiest ways to influence others is to have confidence. Confidence in your abilities, who you are and the project you are working on. I find my confidence wanes when I don’t believe in the product or business I work for.
If you want to influence others then you need to believe in what you are doing which will happen the more you practice the skills above.
Good luck influencing!
Nikki Thomas is a Global Career Success Coach specialising in advancing the careers of ambitious professionals. Working with those in management roles, she provides coaching on stress, failure fears, time management, influencing others and confidence. Nikki has over 10 years of experience in her field and alongside her coaching practice writes for The Huffington Post and is a member of DevelopHer – an association working to elevate women in tech.