Boardroom an example of where influencing skills are needed

Practical Tips To Improve Your Influencing Skills In The Workplace

Influencing skills are a key leadership behaviour to develop. There are many instances where you need to demonstrate influencing and negotiation skills within the workplace. They’re not just skills for people who lead a team. Developing your influencing skills is a great way to increase your credibility in your workplace.

Influencing skills examples

Here are a few influencing skills examples, but there are many more!

  • Motivating a team
  • Running a project
  • Persuading others to help you
  • Gaining resources
  • Negotiating a pay increase or promotion
  • Getting people to accept change
  • Changing someone’s behaviour
  • Resolving disputes
  • Gaining commitment for an idea

People often associate influence with power. The Collins English Dictionary definition even mentions power. However you don’t need to have authority over others to be able to influence them. In fact telling people what to do from a position of power can often lead to resentment, with people feeling coerced.

If you influence someone, you use your power to make them agree with you or do what you want.

Collins english dictionary

You may have experienced times where you’ve been manipulated into doing something. You’re unlikely to trust the person who takes this approach, or be so willing to support their requests in the future.

Building rapport and trust is key to influencing others. How often have you had what you think is a great idea, then excitedly shared it with someone else, only to be disappointed by their lack of enthusiasm?

When they’ve raised concerns or objections how have you responded? Often we react defensively, yet we’ve shared the idea based on the benefits it will bring us, not taking their perspective into account. Does the conversation switch from one where you wanted to gain their buy-in to you trying to assert why your idea is right?

Power is  capacity to get others to act based on  positional authority that is exercised over others; often leading to resentment 

Influence is the ability to modify how a person develops, behaves, or thinks based on relationships and persuasion; often leading to respect

McIntosh & Luecke (2011)

How do you improve your influencing skills?

The good news is that you can develop your influencing skills.

Identify who you need to influence

Draw a mindmap of the people that you need to influence. Who are your key stakeholders, internally and externally?

How well are you influencing them?

Give yourself a score out of 10 for how well you’re influencing each person on your mindmap.

For those that you’re influencing well, what did you do to achieve that? How have you engaged them? How do they respond to you? Are there opportunities to use the rapport you’ve built with them to help you build other connections?

Where do you need to focus your energy?

Where you’re not influencing well how can you focus your energy on building your influence? It’s natural to play it safe and focus our time on influencing those we already have good rapport with. Have you asked them what their goals, motivations and challenges are? Do you have any shared objectives? How can you help them? Have you asked for their help and advice?

Demonstrate active listening

By questioning and listening to understand, we can learn more about the perspective of others -this will help us when we try to influence them. When we know what their goals, motivation and challenges are we can plan how to pitch an idea.

Ask for advice and ideas

Sometimes when you’re in a leadership position you can feel that asking others for advice may make them question your ability. If you don’t engage others in sharing their strengths and skills how does that hinder you and others? Think about when people turn to you for advice or ideas how does it make you feel?

Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.

BrenE Brown

Build your self awareness

One way of building your self awareness is to reflect on the influencing style you tend to use. There is an influencing model called the ‘Push and pull model.’ The model is helpful for understanding how much we ‘push’ – by telling people what’s happening for us, versus how much we ‘pull’ – asking people what is happening for them.

Both styles are useful in different scenarios.

  • Push – “Here are my thoughts on how we can do X…”
  • Pull – “What do you think is the best approach?”

As a general rule it’s best to ‘pull’ more than ‘push.’ Ask questions to build engagement.

Reflect on the approach that you tend to take. If you think of push at one end of a scale and pull at the other where on the scale do you rate yourself?

Think about how each style may make the people on the receiving end feel. As I said they’re both useful, so think about instances where one style is more suitable than the other. If you tend to use a push approach, how can you take a pull approach?

Notice the impact of your approach on others

Look for signs of whether your approach is being positively received. Watch the body language of those you’re trying to influence. Are they becoming defensive? Does their body language tell a different story to their words? What’s your body language towards them?

Need some help?

There are many elements to influencing, but influencing skills can be developed. If you would like some help in building your influencing skills, including strengthening your self awareness and confidence please get in touch.

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