To move things forward and achieve key milestones at work, you often need to be able to influence others—whether it’s colleagues, subordinates, your boss, customers or suppliers. In most cases, influence is power and it’s a critical element for success. Gaining influence can help you better manage a team or get your voice heard in a key meeting.
We’re sharing these key tips for building influence from Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing and social media agency.
1. Build Trust With Your Co-Workers. Only when a co-worker trusts you will he or she be open to your influence. The easiest way to do that is to be open and honest, no matter what. State your opinions, disclose your apprehensions and be transparent.
2. Be Consistent To Show Reliability. Inconsistency is the fastest way to ruin your reputation. On the other hand, if you execute your tasks effectively and on time, day after day, eventually people will come to rely on you. The same is true when you execute a consistent style of leadership, setting consistent expectations with your employees and giving consistent rewards for good work.
3. Be Assertive, Not Aggressive. Being assertive is the only way to get your ideas noticed, especially when you’re competing with others for visibility, such as in a meeting. However, there’s a difference between being assertive and being aggressive. You’ll need to present your thoughts and ideas with a high degree of confidence , but excessive confidence could be mistaken for arrogance, which will compromise your perceived authority. Tread carefully, especially when you’re unfamiliar with your audience or if you’re presenting your thoughts on an area outside of your expertise. Being assertive, so long as you truly believe in what you’re saying, is a way to cultivate a reputation of authority and earn the ability to influence your peers and employees.
4. Be Flexible. Work to demonstrate flexibility while holding firm on your beliefs. Negotiations and compromises are often the best ways to do this. Hold your ground when someone contradicts you, but work with them to find a mutually acceptable solution. When people believe you are flexible, they’ll be more likely to listen to you even if they’re stubborn.
5. Be Personal. A little personality goes a long way, especially when you’re trying to build influence in the workplace. This is especially important when you’re in a higher position, as a boss or a supervisor. If you isolate yourself, or try to build your perceived authority by distancing yourself from others, it might only serve to alienate you. Instead, go out of your way to have personal exchanges with your employees and co-workers. Personal working relationships are important for cultivating a sense of team, and if people see you as another team member, they’ll be more receptive when you present your ideas or opinions.
6. Focus On Actions Rather Than Arguments. Trying to build influence through words is useless. If you’re going to build influence in the workplace, you need to speak through your actions, or at the very least have the actions and history to back up whatever it is you’re saying. Demonstrating your ideas through real examples provides proof of your genuine nature.
7. Listen To Others. Finally, remember that influence is a two-way street. If you want to build relationships with your co-workers and employees, you first have to listen. The more you believe in the people around you and incorporate their ideas into your vision, the more they’ll believe in your ideas and incorporate them into their work habits. Encourage people to speak up, especially if they don’t often voice their opinions. Take time to respect and acknowledge everybody’s opinion, and let people know that you value them.
Try these strategies to improve your scope of influence in the workplace, and your opinions will naturally be heard, acknowledged and respected as a result.
Source: Jayson DeMers is the founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing and social media agency.