How do you improve your influencing skills?

When was the last time you thought about how you influence others? How you change minds, shape opinions, move others to act?Some of the key skills for leaders at all levels is being able to control. It’s more art than science and wrapping your arms around can be difficult. Yet the bottom line is on matters of power. And as we continue to transform (at breakneck speed) into an increasingly global, interconnected, interdependent workplace, it’ll be more critical.

Power is usually dependent upon place in conventional hierarchical organizations. The higher you are on the map of the company, the more control you wield. There are simple, top-down rules where you call the shots from the person at top. Has the control of the individual with the power.

Today, companies are moving towards models which are flatter, matrixed and team-based. The idea is that the need to be more flexible, more inclusive of diverse thinking and more collaborative comes with change and complexity. Influence in this model is all about one’s ability to control and get stuff done beyond conventional lines of coverage. Or put it another way, the person with the authority has the power.

You need both substance and style, to be an effective influencer. Also the most interpersonally competent leaders will fall short of a firm base of legitimacy. At the flip side, if you don’t understand the interpersonal dynamics at play, highly trustworthy individuals will struggle with power.

  1. Keep an eye on the big picture
    How exactly is it you are trying to do? How do you do it? If you reach or achieve your target, then what happens next? Where is the true force in the workplace and how are you going to control that?

2. Be observant
It’s easy to miss the important things about how someone else is feeling or reacting – and that includes you. Get in the habit of asking yourself what the other person in a conversation is thinking. Look for changes in skin colour, breathing, eye movement, fidgeting – any little signs. Noticing the details will help you to understand others and influence them in the right time and way.

3. Be aware of your body language and what you say
How do you look around the workplace as you move about? Looking confident? So if you speak to a friend, is your body language nice? If it comes to influencing others in the workplace, being able to say the right thing-at the right moment-is an exceptional force. Fine-tun the vocabulary by reading widely. Or even looking at Ted talks and other tools at the successful speakers in practice. Ask yourself: How powerful is this? Why do they do the same? How do I react? You want to inspire faith, because you’re going to have power that way.

4. Think about relationships
What kind of relationships have you got in the workplace? What’s your place in the formal – and more importantly, the informal hierarchy? What are your strongest and weakest relationships like? Who are they with? Who can you influence?

5. Active listening
So much is your undivided attention going to people? Continue doing so in cases 1-to-1. Show that you listen by listening to them-and no fidgeting with your ear. Listening correctly will help you understand what they don’t mean, and what they are. Well reading circumstances and giving people due attention will both help you become more powerful.

6. Offer feedback
Once you’ve built a good reputation in the workplace, colleagues will appreciate your feedback on what’s happening, or their thoughts or actions and come to welcome it – so turning you into an influencer.

7. Think about what you want in the context of what others want

Also if you are fundamentally correct about it, you can not believe that everyone else agrees with you or forces your point of view through. Think of their point of view-what ‘s for them in it? Why can the concept be sold as something that is a win-win for both of you? Remember – you may have to make sacrifices but that will also make you more successful.

Of course, when you think about it, all of the above ideas seem pretty simple. Yet the problem today for so many of us is that we don’t care about them. We walk through the corridors of our offices and glance at our cameras. When we are in colleagues sessions, we multi-task. If we are stressed we can be curt or hostile.

If possible, allow yourself the luxury of time. Fully research issues. Concentrate on colleagues as they speak to you. Be consistent, polite, optimistic and reliable. You’ll quickly find that you’re wasting far less of your precious time actively trying to sway people to your point of view because you’ve done the groundwork and gained power already.

Check out my related post: How to get honest feedback from your team?

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