Four Steps to Be an Effective Influencer in the Workplace

by Beth Armknecht Miller

Your currency in the workplace lies in your ability to persuade. You have to make decisions, and those people who are most effective at influencing the outcome of choices will find greater success.

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Whether you are seeking a raise, looking to close a sale or simply want to get ahead, having more control means bettering your odds of getting what you want.

But not everyone is gifted with a command of the fine art of persuasion.

If it doesn’t come naturally to you, here are four steps you can use to become a master persuader.

1. Establish Credibility

Before you can wield influence, you have to establish your credibility. Having a strong opinion isn’t enough. According to Kim Harris, a writer and consultant with Cutting Edge PR, credibility comes from not only from demonstrated knowledge but also from building relationships and proving that you are a team player.

Those with established credibility “have demonstrated over time that they can be trusted to listen and to work in the best interests of others,” Harris writes.

2. Know the Facts

While knowledge is important for building credibility, it is crucial for backing up your position. Pointing to credible evidence and hard-to-dispute facts means you are more likely to be successful in your efforts. However, don’t go overboard. Too many stats, studies and statements might just lose you your audience. Simple is better, writes Steve Roesler on his All Things Workplace website.

“Resist the urge to show off your knowledge and sophistication and keep it simple,” he said. Don’t forget, easy to remember names and ideas work best.

3. Listen and Be Flexible

Persuasion and communication are both two-way streets, so you must be adept at more than just talking. Don’t bluster your way through a presentation without taking note of the body language of your audience. You may need to adapt and improvise, according to CareerBright.com: “We all are different and there is no universal style of persuasion that works for everyone. Prepare your presentation or the final solution after you assess and understand how others respond to your ideas.”

Which isn’t to say you should abandon your goals- although compromise will play a role in most decision-making processes, you need to believe in what you want and fight for it.

“If you don’t care, don’t bother,” says Chrissy Scivicque.

“Whatever you want to persuade another person to do (or think or feel), you simply MUST believe it’s the right thing. The more confidence you can demonstrate, the more convincing you’ll be.”

4. Walk in Their Shoes

Easily one of the more important things to remember throughout the entire process is to keep an understanding of your audience clear in your mind. You know why you want that promotion, but is that what your boss wants? Try to think like your boss does and you’ll be able to anticipate his or her objections. When you know those possible objections, you can properly frame your argument.

Ultimately, like everything in communication, it’s all about the audience. Know your audience, frame your argument and adapt quickly to your audience. Do all of these things consistently and you might just get that raise or promotion you’ve been working toward.

About the author

Beth Armknecht Miller, of Atlanta, Georgia, is Founder and President of Executive Velocity, a leadership development coaching firm accelerating the leadership success of CEOs and business leaders from small to midsize companies. A seasoned project management leader, executive-level consultant in sales, marketing and strategic planning, and a successful consulting firm co-founder, Ms. Miller is a trusted expert to many. She can be reached at [email protected]