15 Ways to Increase Your Influence at Work

Every endeavor requires influence.

In negotiation, you’re influencing someone to move closer to your point of view.  In conflict resolution, you’re influencing two people to solve their issues.  In organizational change, you’re influencing a person or organization to do something in a different way.

Influence is an essential skill in business. Here are 15 techniques that can help you build your skillset.

When reading this blog, think of a specific business goal you are trying to achieve. How can you use these influence techniques to achieve your goal?

Gathering Resources Using Influence

Influencer #1: Use Delegated Authority

Delegated authority is using another person’s organizational clout as your own to increase your influence and/or authority. 

For example, if the company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) instructs you to replace the existing budgeting system with a new software program, then you are acting under the CFO’s authority.  This authority can then be used to gain information, support and funding to complete the task. 

Use your new-found clout sparingly and not as a bully pulpit for your personal advantage.

Influencer #2: Motivation Through Vision (Pull-Based Influence)

You can enlist people to directly help you or provide their resources (budget, information, people, etc.) by describing your vision in a way that appeals to them.  If effect, you can get other people to see your vision as their vision.

Influencer #3: Reciprocity

Reciprocity, from an influence perspective, means that if you do something good for someone, they will feel a social obligation to do something good for you. 

Influencer #4: Consistency

The concept of influence consistency is that if you can convince a person to help in small ways, you can get them to do more of it at a later time. 

For example, if you begin by asking a colleague for a small resource commitment, it may be easier to attain more resources at a later time if the person thinks that the initial resources were used wisely.

Influencer #5: Finding Mutual Gain

Try to find a way that your goal is also of value to the person you are trying to influence.  This way, they are not giving the resources to you, they are using their resources toward their own gain, which happens to be to your advantage also.

Influencer #6: Action/Reaction

Use your own actions to cause a reaction in the person you are trying to influence.

Try performing a task that needs to be done anyway but doing it in a manner that causes the other person to react in a specified fashion.  For example, if there is person that you need to respond to your emails more quickly, then respond to their emails quickly, with the hope that they will be return the favor. 

This technique can work in many ways, including getting additional resources. If you can show that you are committing your resources to the project, showing that you have “skin in the game,” then they may commit their resources also.

Influencer #7: Direct Request

While all the previously listed influence techniques can be very effective, the best way to gain the needed resources is simply to ask.  However, doing any of the previously listed techniques first makes the ask a little easier and a lot more successful.

Changing Individuals Using Influence

Influencer #8: Emotional Intelligence

Each person looks at change from their own perspective.  The better you understand another person’s perspective, the easier it will be for you to influence them to change on your behalf.  This is “empathy” which is a key component of emotional intelligence.

Influencer #9: Personal Connection

All interpersonal interactions, including influence, are enhanced if the people interacting had previously created a positive, trusting connection.  If possible, try to meet with people in an introductory and friendly meeting, perhaps over a cup of coffee, when you first start working with them.  This is will allow you to begin forming a positive working relationship prior to any issues arising.

Influencer #10: Storytelling

Stories, if done correctly, bring together information, setting, actions, emotions and other factors that involve many parts of your brain.  This is why stories are so memorable and persuasive. 

Consider the example of influencing organizational change. Storytelling can be used to your advantage by telling people about the change in the form of story, rather than a list of bullet points or numeric data. This story should include the current situation, why the change needs to be made, the desired outcome, and the process to get there.  This will give people a holistic understanding of the change being made and ideally gaining their support in the process.

Influencer #11. Leading Questions

A leading question is modeled with the intent of soliciting a specific conclusion or action.  Using them, you can respectfully point people toward the goal that you would like to achieve. 

For example, when I’m teaching a class and have completed a topic, rather then say, “Now let’s move the next topic,” I ask the question, “Any additional questions on this topic before I move to the next?”  Facilitating this topical transition by asking this type of leading question has multiple advantages.  First, it gives the students an easy opportunity to ask any final questions on the topic just completed.  Second, by asking their permission to move forward, it provides them input into the class’s tempo, helping to maximize the learning.  Third, by asking this question, rather than simply telling them I’m moving the next topic, is a nicer, more respectful and less abrupt way to move forward.

Influencer #12: Social Proof

We can view social proof in two ways. 

First, people often look at the behavior of others for direction on choices. For example, a company is more likely to buy a product that all their major competitors purchase, rather than a product that is unknown within their industry. 

Second, there is safety in numbers. A decision has a lower business risk if it is the same as that made by others within the same department or company.

If you can list respected people within your company that agree with you, then additional people will be more like to go along with your initiative.

Changing Culture Using Influence

Influencer #13: Understanding Microcultures

As people have personalities, companies (and other organizations) have cultures.  It’s important that you understand not only your company’s overall culture, but also microcultures within it. 

Consider the example of implementing a new company-wide process. You may need to describe it differently to the salesforce than to the accounting department because their internal departmental cultures, goals and challenges are different.

Influencer #14: Statement Repetition

Statement repetition is the process of repeating your message through multiple avenues on an ongoing basis with the goal that employees internalize the message as their own.

This concept can be used by identifying the people that should be reached and the multiple ways they can be contacted via their natural work flow.  This may include a login message on their computer, posters in the hallways, a small sign placed on desks, a large sign at the office entrance, etc.  The more they see your signs, the more likely they will be able to accept the message.

Influencer #15: Senior Management Support

When trying to achieve your business goal, first assess the managerial support for your goal.  If they are the ones requesting it, then support can be assumed.  If the initiative is being pushed upon them from outside the organization, then you must begin your efforts by influencing the local management to assist.  Without this local management support, your project will have a high risk of failure.

Next Steps

Enhancing your influence skills is neither an event nor a destination. It’s a journey of life-long learning, practice, and experience.  Consider this blog to be steppingstone in your quest of learning how to influence others and how it can be used in all interpersonal activities.

Want to get in-depth on influence and other leadership techniques? Check out this Leadership through Influence class.

Are You an Influencer? Find out and get a FREE Book!

Eric Bloom has identified 67 personal attributes that effect your ability to influence others. Take the survey to learn how these attributes affect your office influence. As a thank you, Eric will send you a free copy of his new book, Office Influence: Getting What You Want, From the Mailroom to the Boardroom.

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Blog Post Author: Eric Bloom

Eric Bloom is the Executive Director of the IT Management and Leadership Institute, a contributing writer to CIO.com, TEDx speaker, bestselling author, and a research advisor for IDC. Eric’s professional experience also includes serving as a senior IT executive at various prestigious firms such as Fidelity Investments, Monster.com and Independence Investments.

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