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The art of influence – Getting what you want at work
14 July 2015
A great idea that will benefit your company can be an important stepping stone to your workplace success and career progression. But have you ever had such an idea, only to be met with resistance from your boss and co-workers? You’re not alone – getting ideas approved can be difficult. But it’s not impossible.
I refuse to accept the idea that man cannot influence the unfolding events that surround him - Martin Luther King
Understanding the art of influence – and using that influence – is key to getting what you want at work. While influence and persuasion are words that can carry negative connotations, they are also two of the most powerful tools in the workplace.
It’s a simple formula: Ideas + Influence = Success.
There are a series of logical steps to gaining influence in the workplace. Very rarely will you be working in isolation, so keep these tips in mind when you’re next trying to get an initiative approved:
Connect with the people you are trying to influence
Understanding others and making them feel comfortable with you will make it easier to persuade them of your ideas. Take the time to genuinely befriend your co-workers, and get to know them on a personal level. Ask relevant questions about their lives, families and interests. People are more likely to support you if they feel a connection and affinity with you. You have to listen to be heard, so make sure you take the time to listen to those around you at work.
Think about the bigger picture and make it worth their while
Think about how your idea is beneficial to the wider organisation, to your boss and colleagues. How does it appeal to their needs and aspirations? People will be more willing to approve an idea if it is aligned with their interests and ambitions.
It can be hard to prove the success of an idea, so look for examples of how similar ideas and initiatives have been successfully implemented in other companies. Case studies, proof of an ROI and cost-benefit analyses will increase the likelihood of your idea being approved.
In his leading guide on the art of influence – INFLUENCE: Science and Practice – Dr. Robert B. Cialdini stresses the importance of ethical influence. It’s important to use the power of influence in a dignified and respectful way, as opposed to using manipulation or exploitation of your colleagues. Be positive and genuine in your persuasion and you will be more likely to garner the respect and support of others. Being influential in the workplace is a key factor in career success, so keep these tips for persuasion in mind next time you need support or approval in your office.