Influence in the workplace is a powerful thing. With it you can get more done and advance the projects you care about. You’re more likely to get noticed, get promoted and even receive raises. It can help motivate your colleagues to support your initiatives and adopt your ideas, and to position yourself as an information leader or a go-to person that people seek out for guidance and advice.
We’re at a point where everyone is so distracted by information overload and the pace of their digital lives that they have never been more difficult to influence. And yet, the increased pressure on gaining results means it’s never been more important to command influence in the workplace.
Here are a few simple principles you can adopt to begin increasing your influence in the workplace.
- Build connections
At the end of the day, one of the fundamental reasons why people will do things for you is because they know you and they like you. This doesn’t mean being the most popular person at work, but a good rapport will go a long way to at least getting people to hear you out. Work on cultivating those personal connections and let people get to know you. Network, network, network!
- Listen before you try to persuade
If you want people to back you up is to make them feel heard, and this is all about practicing the discipline of focus. This means when you’re meeting with someone else you need to tune out those distractions, turn to them, freeze in place and really listen. Further, make sure you ask your colleagues for their perspectives and advice. Make them feel heard!
- Mind your body language and tone
Something as simple as sitting with good posture can communicate a higher level of authority than if you were slouching (considered a subordinate posture). Uncross those arms, try not to fidget, and pitch your voice a little lower and more evenly to counteract the effects of nervousness, which tends to push your tone higher. All of these actions connote power.
- Develop expertise
Increase your influence by being seen as a recognised expert within your organisation. This will take time and effort on your part, but you can take steps to develop your business-critical expertise and know how. Immerse yourself in your topic area by regularly attending relevant conferences, enrolling in professional development programs and getting involved in working groups and networks, and share your learnings publicly by blogging on LinkedIn. These are all very visible signs that you are staying informed.
- Map a strategy
Creating a strategic ‘plan of attack’ is a great way to leverage ythe influence you’ve built to promote an initiative or idea. One way to do this is by creating an org chart of decision makers related to your issue. If you don’t think you can influence someone directly, think about who could and channel your efforts through them. This isn’t scheming, it’s strategising.
- Give people what they want
Find out how you can authentically answer the age-old question ‘what’s in it for me?’ for the people you want on your side. Do your homework to understand the needs, perspectives and temperaments of your stakeholders. Don’t be self-interested, be inclusive. Use words like ‘we’, ‘us’, and ‘our’ when talking about the benefits to help people see the value for them and the wider organisation.