No matter what business you’re in or what job you do, you will need to influence others. If you’re the boss, influencing is easier. But what if you need to influence a colleague or even your superviso? Just because you don’t have the job title to force a decision doesn’t mean you can’t have tremendous influence. Here’s how you can be influential, despite not having the authority.
Be respected because you’re good at what you do
The people that have the most influence in an organization aren’t always the ones with the biggest titles. It’s the people that are good at what they do. When you do your job well and take initiative, people notice. By being good at what you do, you become a professional resource for your co-workers. They will value your opinion more because they value your work. And if they value your opinion, they are more likely to trust and be influenced by you.
Have solid reasoning behind your suggestions
Do your homework. If you think there is a work issue to be solved or a methodology your organization needs to adopt, make sure you have good reasons why. Don’t just offer your opinion. Offer facts, statistics, experiences and industry knowledge if possible. Be a credible source of information and you will be much more likely to influence your colleagues.
As helpful as your co-workers can be, they still want to know what’s in it for them. Think about how your solutions or needs will benefit them. That’s a good check-up for you to make sure your motives are benign. Nobody wants to accommodate someone who is a constant self-server. It’s best for your workplace if you think about what would benefit the organization and everyone involved. Does your idea pass this test? If so, then make your opinion known and try to influence others.
Know your co-workers
If you want to influence things or people at work, then you need to know your co-workers. Be as friendly as possible to everyone and get involved with company functions. Don’t make the mistake of being a chatty or wasting people's time, but simple and earnest pleasantries can help you build your work relationships. Ask people about themselves, do them favors, and make feel indebted to your kindness. If your work relationships are strong, you have a better chance of influencing things.
Channel the masters
There were many great influencers throughout history, including Niccolo Machiavelli, Confucius and Rousseau. Each of these men had a specific methodology for influence; Machiavelli gets a bad rap for being underhanded and manipulative. While manipulation was part of his methodology, Machiavelli pointed out what motivates people and how to deal with those forces. He was more practical than people give him credit for. In his piece, The Prince, Machiavelli talks about how to manage and use people’s own motivations to wield influence. Confucius was concerned with virtue and Rousseau wrote about how regulate the needs of people and organizations in his work The Social Contract. There are many other people you can study who had great influential skills. Some may be in your own organization. Look at what works and try to emulate those tactics while still being true to yourself. Because at the end of the day, those who influence are the ones who are respected.