Big results, Minimal Effort – Increase your Influence at Work

I love working with women on their ability to influence at work, it’s such an easy area to make big improvements with very little effort. When we have more influence at work, we get more done, are happier, and more successful!  This is one of the many areas that coaching is great for getting results, because often we’re unaware of the language we use, our body language, and other ways we may be giving away our power.  Being able to work with someone one to one, or in a group, where I can observe and give feedback, and find specific solutions to fit their needs is hugely valuable.  I’ve watched women go from wallflower to sunflower in a very short time.

I’ve been there.  There were times I was afraid to speak up.  Times when I did I didn’t feel heard.  There have also been many times when others (usually men), have run with my idea and claimed it as their own.  It’s so frustrating.  I knew I had something valuable to share, something worth listening to, yet so often I felt shut down or talked over.  AAAHHHHHHHHH!!  I would be screaming in my head, but retreating in person.  A lot has to do with confidence, but there’s so much you can do on the way to building your inner powers.  Right now I’m going to share the key principles that can make all the difference.  Over this week in my Career Winners Facebook Group (join here if you haven’t already), I’m going to be sharing lots of simple tips and tricks to increase your influence at work.

We want to influence to have our ideas taken on board, to feel we’re having impact, for people to take us seriously, to be respected.

So, first we go back to basics…

Rapport

We don’t get very far trying to influence at work without rapport, so this is a great place to start.  How do you build rapport?  Start by being present.  What I mean by that, is when you give someone your undivided attention, you’re right there in the moment, then you will build rapport easily.  We are all so distracted these days that we can forget to just be there with someone.  Make eye contact, relax, and enjoy being in someone else’s company.  Do you want to know the quickest way to build rapport?  Imagine how it feels when you’re with a close friend.  That easy way you have.  When you tap into that feeling before you meet someone new, then you will give off a positive aura that the person will respond to.

How do you know when you’re in rapport with someone?

It’s easy to see.  I’ve been delivering a lot of Leadership programmes in the Gibson Hotel in Dublin lately.  It’s the location for the Irish version of First Dates.  This is the perfect show (from whatever country you prefer), to observe rapport – or lack of it!  People in rapport will mirror each other in lots of ways, the way they are sitting, facial expressions, gestures, even breathing!  You can feel it easily too.  That sense of ease you have with someone.  When it’s not there, everything is clunky and awkward.  Nobody will be influenced by someone they feel awkward around.

Listening

A great tool for building rapport and influence at work is to listen!  People love to feel listened to, and it’s such a rare thing these days.  Listening makes a person feel valued, respected, interesting…doesn’t that sound like a set of traits you would love to have associated with you.  And it’s a set of traits that build rapport, trust, and influence.

I’ve already mentioned the undivided attention thing – so just focus on the person.  Be interested.  Listen to understand, not to answer!  When we are thinking of the smart answer, we aren’t hearing what the other person is saying.  If we jump in to share ‘that happened to me and here’s what I did’, we aren’t hearing.  When we listen with the intent to hear, to understand, to be there for the person, then we really hear.  So that’s the first reason listening works.

The second reason is what you hear.  When you listen you will hear peoples likes and dislikes, what works and what doesn’t.  What they care about.  They use certain language.  They tell you all you need to know to influence them.  When we listen we hear how a person thinks.  Doesn’t that sound like vital information to help in your ability to influence!  So pay attention, and as Stephen Covey said ‘seek first to understand, then be understood.’

Asking great questions

Great questions open people up, which gives you plenty to listen to and helps build rapport.  They also give you an insight into how the person thinks, and what is important to them.  When you know what’s important to someone, then you can tie that to your idea/ or the task you want them to do.  If you’re a manager this is a fundamental strategy to buying people into a task or change.  Being able to ask good questions gives you so much to work on, so here are a few pointers…

  • Keep them open (what/ how/where/ who/ when)
  • Be careful of asking why – I’ll give you the why question to use for influence, but generally speaking it is a question to avoid. Asking people why can make them feel defensive, and we are not open to influence when we are defensive!
  • Ask one question at a time – people often pile them up which is just confusing and annoying. You’ll only get one answered anyway!
  • Some handy questions to have in your pocket…
    • What are your thoughts on…?
    • How might you go about…?
    • What is important to you about…? (insert job/ project/ task etc.)
    • Why is that important to you? (the why question you can use)
    • What would … give or get you?
    • What do you think might not work? (finding out objections is useful so you can manage them)

When you put these 3 tactics together you’ll be unstoppable.  I’d love to hear your thoughts regarding influence at work, so please leave a comment below!