Have you ever had a great work idea, then shared it with your boss or colleagues, but they weren’t as convinced about it as you were? Then the next day, someone else shares their idea – it’s pretty similar to yours, and the team loves it! How could this be?
Well, one of the reasons could be that your colleague has more influence than you. It’s more important than ever to be able to command influence in the workplace, because of the increased pressure to get results. But, to command influence, you don’t have to have an impressive job title or be super senior. In fact, a title alone isn’t always enough to sway others. No matter your role in the company, you CAN influence people and persuade colleagues to get behind your ideas and initiatives. One of the key things to achieving this outcome is your communication approach. Below are three strategies to help your communication become more effective, so you can start building more influence at work.
2. Be Clear & Structured About What You Want
3. Be Persuasive With Your Words By Adding Spice
1. Build Rapport At Work
If you want colleagues to support an idea or your boss to get behind a project, the first step is to build a positive relationship with them. You’ll probably have heard the phrase, “people buy people”. It’s not just something that applies to the sales world, it’s at the core of us influencing anyone, about anything. At a fundamental level, one of the reasons that people do things for you, support an idea or agree with your perspective, is because they like you.
Take the time to get to know your colleagues and build personal connections with them.
Be genuinely interested in what they have to say.
Ask them open-ended questions to understand their goals and motivations.
Find common ground with them and allow them to get to know you.
Having rapport with someone doesn’t automatically translate into influence, but it does make it easier to communicate with them and to gain their trust.
2. Be Clear And Structured About What You Want
This might seem obvious, but if you’re wanting to try and influence others’ or you want them to buy into your idea, it’s important to put some preparation into what you’re going to say. If you don’t, you can miss key points in your argument or end up waffling. Being clear and concise in your communication can help ensure that your message is understood. If that happens, there’s a higher chance of them being influenced by it. Even if you’ve only got a short amount of time to prepare, the below technique can really help you get clear on what message you want to get into your listener’s head.
Jot down the overall objective of why you’re speaking - What are you trying to influence your listeners to do, agree to? Hook people’s attention from the very beginning with this. There’s no time to skirt around the edges - information overload and modern-day distractions, such as emails and mobile phones have led us to have shorter attention spans.
Below that, list between three and five key points you need to cover that will help you achieve that overall objective. Use single words or short phrases.
Number them in the order you want to deliver them.
This technique can take less than a minute and give you invaluable support if your mind goes blank when speaking. Think of it as a way of signposting yourself to keep you on track when you’re speaking. Just take a brief look down at your notes, and because they’re succinct, you can quickly find your place, without any need to panic.
3. Be Persuasive With Your Words By Adding Spice
Using the right words, has the potential to be incredibly powerful when building influence at work. We like to call it adding ‘spice’ to what you’re saying - really bringing what you’re saying to life. How much spice you add is up to you. This can be anything from adding in an anecdote to illustrate a point, sharing your unique perspective or observations, to just adding a pinch of spice and choosing a few impactful words to land your point firmly in your listener’s head. For example, here are two different ways you could ask your boss to support an idea you have. Which one comes across as more passionate and persuasive?
Option A: I think my proposal is a good idea, and I’d appreciate it if you could back it.
Option B: I firmly believe that this strategy will accelerate our progress, and we’ll be within touching distance of our goal in no time.
With option B, the individual words are much more impactful, and then put together in a sentence, the message comes across as more confident and persuasive. Dare I say, words of someone who is influential at work!
In addition to this, another clever way of being persuasive with your words and increasing your influence on a particular issue is by first thinking, ‘How best will my listener receive this message?’.
This will allow you to authentically use your words to frame your opinion as a benefit to the people you want on your side.
Consider everyone you need to influence – what are their needs, perspectives, and temperaments?
Do your homework to find out what will capture their attention. For each person, make sure you’re answering the question, “What’s in it for me?”.
Not only is it important to consider each person’s individual needs, it’s also important to talk about how your ideas will benefit the entire organisation and how ‘we’ will see value.
Balancing the use of “we” with the use of “I”, you allow others to see you’ve got everyone’s best interests at heart, while still getting a clear idea of why you’re passionate about what you’re saying.
Remember, it takes time and effort to build influence, so be persistent and keep working on your communication style.