The ability to influence people is a great skill but it is not an easy one to have, let alone master it. There are many ways a person can have influence on other people, and they usually fall into one of three categories, through status (money or power), relationship or expertise.
Regardless of how you are exercising influence on others, these four practical tips will help you in the process and improve your influencing skills.
Firstly, there is a saying that to be a good teacher, one has to be a good student. Same goes for influencing. To be good at influencing others, you have to have the open mind and the courage to be influenced too. You can then gather learnings from your own experience by understanding how someone else has influenced you and what you like and dislike about the approach.
Secondly, credibility is very important in achieving successful influence. You need to build and earn credibility by action rather than words. The principle is actually very simple; if you want others to help you, listen to you or work with you, you first need to show that you are trustworthy and reliable.
Thirdly, think about mutual benefit and look from the other person’s point of view when trying to influence them. When you empathise with the other person, you are more likely to understand their situation and influence in a way that is easily agreeable. In any situation, it is not just about you, it’s about them too and the more mutually beneficial the situation is, the more influential you can be.
Fourthly, adapting your influencing style for your target audience is crucial to being able to influence effectively. We deal with different types of people from different walks of life and therefore, our influencing style needs to be different and customised for different target audience. At workplace, when you are trying to influence your colleagues or peers, you might use a different tactic than when you are influencing senior management. Similarly, at home, you might use a different approach to influence your partner but a different one for influencing your children. For example, being assertive might work for one type of target audience and being supportive might work for the other.
Bonus tip: Always be learning and improving
As with anything, we need to continuously learn and improve our influencing skill. There is no single person in the world that has mastered influencing skill and is able to influence effectively and successfully in every situation. Sometimes, we may do a good job at it, sometimes, a great job and other times, a not-so-good job. As long as we are being aware of what and how we are doing, learning from past experiences and applying the four tips that are discussed here then there is no doubt that we will see our influence increase.