Being influential at work is not about being in a specific position or having authority. Every employee is in a position to influence once we know how to do it. Influence is the process of taking advantage of an opportunity, establishing creditability, which can lead to more opportunities to influence, understanding our intent, and an ability to communicate effectively.
With the mastery of influence, we can transform and shape the opinions of others.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the 4 elements of influencing or persuading others:
Opportunity: Recognizing when you can influence.
Credibility: Contributing ideas that build value.
Intent: Understanding the reason for wanting to share a point of view or opinion.
Effective Communication: Sharing ideas in a way others understand.
Opportunity is when we have a chance to share our point of view or suggest a different way of thinking about something.
And, opportunity comes in two forms, known and unknown. A known opportunity is when we are asked to share our opinion or recognize when our ideas relate to the topics of an impromptu conversation.
Unknown influential opportunities happen when others observe how we do things, like how we manage a project, define a solution to a problem, or interact with others across our organization. We unknowingly influence others or establish creditability (these 2 are significantly intertwined) based on how we approach our jobs.
But the best way to be influential, and establish creditability, is by proactively suggesting ideas for better ways of doing something or achieving goals. Some examples might include offering how new technology could make a process easier, conceiving a new product or service, or proposing a new group of customers that would benefit from our company’s product or service. Our suggestions also need to align with our organization’s current goals or objectives.
To be seen as creditability, we need to add value to work conversations by offering a new way of thinking about a topic. And support our ideas with the data or information that helped to form them.
An action that can negatively impact our creditability is simply echoing what others say. It is okay to agree with someone else, but we then need to contribute new information, data, or opinion that builds on that idea. Or we can offer a counter opinion during discussions to help expand everyone’s thinking.
By bringing a different point of view, you are adding value to a conversation. Others may not agree, but their creditability lies in their ability to share data, facts, information, or opinions supporting their viewpoints. The exchange of fact-based ideas always leads to a better outcome than groupthink.
Creditability is powered by intent. We need to start by knowing our underlying motivation for attempting to influence others. We may have an idea that can save our organization money. We may want to offer an opposing view to ensure our organization does not overlook potential barriers or obstacles. If our intent is not to add value but to demonstrate intelligence or to be right, we can negatively impact our influence.
And finally, to influence others, we need to communicate our ideas in a way our audience understands. The communication process includes defining our goal (intent), gathering data or researching a situation to support our ideas or influence our opinions (creditability), and knowing our audience. We need to understand who we are attempting to influence. What are their current opinions on the topic? What might be their barriers to agreeing with our idea? We’ll also want to consider the depth of our audience’s knowledge on the topic to determine the level of detail we need to provide.
To influence others at work, we need to exercise system 2 thinking, possess intellectual humility, build strong work relationships, be empathetic, and present confidently.
Log in or sign-up for Brize today (30-days free) to complete the Strategic Presence discovery questionnaire to see if there are areas you can strengthen to be more influential and persuasive at work.