by Don Morley

In a nutshell

1. Know what you want

The first step is to make sure you are entirely clear as to what the intended outcome will be, for you and others. Essential questions may include

  • What is the situation?
  • Who is involved?
  • What is the task?
  • Are there resource implications?
  • Are there communication issues?
  • Where are the risks?


2. Be in the right frame of mind

At the same time, it is necessary to get into the right mindset.

  • Know yourself – are you a pessimist or an optimist?
  • Have you made the necessary preparations – do you know what you want?
  • Can you accept that disagreement does not mean the other person is an ‘enemy’?
  • Are you positive in body language and in mindset?
  • If you don’t like the other party, can you separate the person from the issue?


3. Tap into your network

An appropriate network is a powerful aid in many business situations, especially when there is a need to get things done and influence is the only tool. It pays to pay attention to your network.

  • Aim for quality rather than quantity.
  • Look ahead – who will you be working with in the future?
  • Examine your existing network – are there major gaps?
  • Use our diagnostic tool to check your network.


4. Build rapport

A key component of positive influence is the ability to build rapport with others. This is about getting on the same wavelength and creating an understanding because you ‘talk their language’. One way to achieve this is the use the Personal Style Indicator. What type of person is the individual you wish to influence?

  • Behavioural types are extroverted and task oriented.
  • Affectives are also extroverted, but more people oriented.
  • Interpersonals are people oriented introverts.
  • Cognitives are analytical introverts.


5. Use your communication skills

Underpinning much of the influencing process are outstanding communication skills.

  • We have two ears and one mouth – listening is more important than talking.
  • A skilful use of questioning increases understanding.
  • Summarising and paraphrasing clarify understanding and enhance rapport.
  • Pay attention to your body language.


6. Tune in to their needs

Unless you are able to accurately tune in to the other party’s situation there is no hope of getting to a meeting of minds.

  • Is anything happening in the other person’s work life that might make them unprepared to consider your idea?
  • Could it be a personal problem that is getting in the way?
  • Have you paid sufficient attention to organisational politics?


7. Exploit your strengths

Resistance on the part of others can often be overcome by playing to our strengths. These are the very bargaining chips that could win over the other person and achieve the outcome sought. They might include

  • A good team
  • A reputation for effective action
  • An eye for detail
  • Experience
  • Integrity
  • People skills


8. Aim for a win/win outcome

From the outset, it is vitally important to remember that the word ‘win’ appears twice in this approach to achieving lasting influence. If you are only thinking in terms of one winner – yourself – then beware the consequences. If you scored the victory, the other person is suffering from defeat.

  • Getting total commitment takes time.
  • Be prepared to be flexible – look for the win/win solution.
  • Use the ‘language of mutuality’.
  • Remember that compromise is not win/win.


The building blocks described above are not necessarily sequential; for example, having an appropriate network in place at all times makes eminent sense. Preparation, rapport skills and networking combine to make the task of influencing much easier and more likely to succeed.