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How to effectively influence people at work (even if you don’t have formal authority)

You don't need formal authority to be able to influence the people around you

Photo by ElisaRiva via Pixabay
Photo by ElisaRiva via Pixabay

There’s no doubt that the ability to influence others is important for leaders, but being an effective influencer at work is an important skill for everyone, regardless of the level you’re at. 

Why is influencing others so important? Because it’s much easier to get things done at work if you have the support of those around you, so it is incredibly important to your success.

Being an effective influencer will help you to:

  • Develop a strong reputation
  • Gain buy-in for projects
  • Garner support for initiatives
  • Reach your goals
  • Negotiate a promotion, a raise, or time-off work
  • Be more successful overall – it’s easier to do a great job if you have people behind you!

Here’s how you can become an effective influencer at work, even if you don’t have formal authority.

Build your credibility by demonstrating your expertise

If you want to be able to influence others, people need to believe that you know what you’re talking about – after all, we tend to support people if we also believe that their actions and words are credible. Build your credibility at work by demonstrating your expertise, confidence and by doing what you say you’ll do. The more credibility you have, the easier it will be to influence the people around you.

How can you do this? Speak up at meetings, share your knowledge and what you know how to do best – with confidence and with poise. This may be scary at first, and gets easier with time and with practice. For tips on how to build your confidence, check out my article “How to build your confidence at any stage in your career”.

Build personal relationships across the organization

Develop strong and trusted relationships with your colleagues – those senior to you, those at the same level, and those junior to you. It’s easier to influence someone if they trust you, and easier to influence people if they see that others trust you as well.

The easiest way build relationships is to take an interest in others, be genuine and be honest. Some easy ways to do this? Ask someone to go for a coffee. Support them in an initiative they are taking. Ask them for advice. Ask about their family. Remember their birthday. Do something nice for them. Do what you say you’re going to do,, with good intention, and without expecting anything in return.

Prepare for your influencing conversations

Whatever you’re trying to influence will be more effective if you have prepared in advance. One of the easiest ways to convince anyone of anything is to show them why it’s important and beneficial to them – everyone wants to know what’s in it for them!

To do this, ensure that your conversation communicates the benefits of what you’re trying to influence on – to them as an individual, to the team or to the organization as a whole. For example, if you want some funding for a project you feel passionately about, explain how the project will benefit the organization: reputation, exposure, it fits in with CSR initiatives – whatever it may be.  If people can see the value of what you’re trying to influence them about, they are more likely to support you.

Plan for push-back

You’re not always going to be able to influence on your first try. You’ll probably face some resistance – so anticipate ways to handle it. For example, if you’re asking for time off and you think your manager will decline because of upcoming projects, come up with a few ways that you can ensure the projects will get done before you go, or keep going while you’re gone – colleagues who have agreed to take over your work, your commitment to completing work before you leave or even offering to be available while you are gone. Remember those colleagues you built relationships with? Since they like and trust you you, they’ll be more inclined to help you out.

Closing the loop

The ability to effectively influence takes time and practice. Each time you follow the tips above, your ability to influence will become much stronger and more effective, helping you to reach your goals and be successful at work. 

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