10 Powerful Ways to Influence People at Work

At work whether you’re dealing with colleagues, staff, vendors or clients there is always the need to make a good impression and to have an impact. And this is important because when you can connect with people and exert influence you can achieve your objectives much more quickly and with less resistance.

An interesting characteristic of exceptional business leaders is their ability to get the best from people, they know how to appeal to people in a way that makes them eager to give 100%. Thankfully, this is not a God given trait only some people have, this is a learnable skill anyone can acquire to have more influence and impact when dealing with people.

Let’s look at 10 ways you can be honest and sincere yet more influential in all of your business dealings.

1. Values

One of the most impactful ways to influence someone is to identify his values and appeal to those values. Our values represent what is important to us, some people value success, achievement and recognition while others value honesty, integrity and loyalty. What we value varies from one person to the next.

People reveal their values through their actions more than through their stated opinions. You can identify someone’s values by his track record, his lifestyle and the kind of people he associates with.

You can then appeal to his values by framing any requests in terms of what is important to him. This requires flexibility on your part, you must be able to explain what you want in different terms for different people. If someone is highly achievement oriented talk about how his input will help him to get ahead, if he values security talk about how his support is a way to develop your long term business relationship.

The key is to be honest yet adaptable so that you can frame your request in terms of what matters to the other person. In other words, you need to speak their language rather than expecting everyone to adapt to your values.

2. Identity

The single most reliable indicator of behavior is our compulsion to be consistent with our identity. If you see yourself as dependable, consistent and a team player it can be almost impossible to reject a request for help from a close colleague. On the other hand if you see yourself as independent, bad tempered and stubborn you may find yourself reluctant to help even though you really want to. In each case your identity, how you see yourself, will dictate the range of behaviors you feel comfortable with.

The key is to pay attention to the clues people leave about their sense of self. Pay attention to statements such as “I would never do that!”, “that’s not the kind of person I am!”, “I am someone who…”, “who do you think I am?”, “I am…”.

Any request you make that matches the identity of the person you are dealing with is going to be very persuasive to that person. It justifies agreement because their identity and your request are a logical match. On the other hand any request that is inconsistent with their identity will often be rejected immediately even if it’s a fair and reasonable suggestion.

Whenever you can appeal to someone’s identity your request will be almost irresistibly persuasive so make sure to use this approach with integrity.

3. Give First

Always give first before asking something of a business connection. You need to do this to establish that you are sincere and open to a mutually beneficial long term business relationship. Because so many people just want to take, take, take or they make a game of giving first before immediately asking for much more, when you give without asking for something in return you define yourself as someone worth knowing.

Your generosity indicates you are looking to build a mutually beneficial relationship that doesn’t demand reciprocity out of a sense of obligation. Take away the pressure to return a favor and ironically people are much more likely to feel motivated to help you in return.

4. Small Request

The first time you make a request of a business contact or a colleague make sure it’s a small request, ask for something you need but make it a minor request the other person can fulfill with little effort. This is important because you want to remove any obstacles to receiving help up front. If someone cannot or will not help you then you know it’s unlikely they will assist you if you ever need help with a bigger issue. If that happens you need to focus more on building rapport and then see if you can get help with a small request at a later date. If you still can’t get any help then it’s best to move onto someone else, someone who is interested in having a win win relationship with you.

When you do get a positive response to a small request it means you’ve established the possibility of a mutually supportive business relationship. Make sure to thank the person, either send a thank you note or make a short phone call to convey your appreciation. And look for ways to help that person get ahead.

5. Big Request

Only after getting a positive response to a small request should you consider making a request for something bigger. In fact, often it’s best to wait until you’ve had a series of small requests and positive responses before asking for more. This will take time, you need to establish a relationship with a bilateral pattern of asking and receiving that benefits you and the other party. This will also let you know how capable and how reliable the other person is.

When you eventually make a big request make sure to do so without placing any pressure on the other person to help you. Be explicit about this, say directly with no possibility for misunderstanding that you’d appreciate help or advice but only if it’s a convenient time and only if the other person isn’t too busy with other commitments.

And only make a big request if you are prepared to reciprocate in kind at a later date. Please bear in mind that asking for help is not a way to get free help, it’s more like barter with the aim of building and maintaining a mutually beneficial business relationship. You must expect to pay in terms of time, skills and contacts.

6. Shared Goals

The easiest way to get commitment from someone is to find a situation where your goal and the other person’s goal are in alignment. By helping you succeed he will also succeed. This needs to be a genuine fit not a manipulated effort to find common ground.

Before this can happen you need to have an understanding of what the other person wants to achieve, how he plans to do so and why it matters to him. Take the time to get to know someone and you’ll see where your goals and their goals allow for the possibility of cooperation for mutual gain.

A shared mission to achieve success can be highly advantageous to both parties because it encourages people to pool resources and commit to a win win relationship from day one.

7. Congruent Agreement

When you have an established business relationship and you make a request for help make sure you get a congruent agreement to help you otherwise it counts for nothing. Probe a little more deeply, if you notice a lack of commitment and a reluctance to help you, to find out what the problem is.

If you notice resistance to your request it’s best to take the pressure off and withdraw the request. This allows both parties to discuss the matter in a more relaxed manner and to potentially find a new way to proceed that works for everyone.

Whenever you have an uncommitted response to a request you risk introducing unwanted pressure and awkwardness into the relationship and it’s nearly always better to drop the request than to risk the relationship. And that’s why you must always check for congruent agreement to your requests and address any resistance immediately.

8. Never Criticize

When you are still getting to know someone it’s best not to criticize them personally when they ask you for feedback even if they request feedback on their personal weaknesses. Always keep it positive and never offer personal advice unless it’s asked for. Even then, encourage people to develop their strengths but don’t point out their weaknesses.

In business we all like to project an image of invincibility but most people are simply hiding their insecurities behind job titles and achievements so don’t risk upsetting someone by agitating their demons.

Be friendly, be positive and refuse to be the one who points out personal deficiencies to his friends. This is the best way to maintain rapport and to encourage cooperation now and in the future.

9. Return Favors

Every favor demands a response in the business world. Don’t forget, this is not family, this is the dynamic world of business where every good turn deserves one in return. As you build a network of mutually supportive colleagues always be aware of their current projects and pressing issues so you can be ready to help with your contacts and expertise.

Don’t kid yourself that a favor received is a lottery win. It’s not! It’s a friendly way of receiving help that you must show appreciation for, by performing a favor in return, either in response to a request or as a spontaneous gesture to help a colleague solve a problem.

Think of favors as comprising a barter economy, it can be a highly efficient way to get things done without cash ever changing hands and it allows commitment relationships to develop that enable all parties to become more successful. Just bear in mind that the only relationships which last are the ones where people give and receive out of a sincere desire to help.

10. Rapport

Everyone prefers to do business with people they know, like and trust but it takes time to get to know someone so don’t expect your ability to influence someone to happen overnight. Instead make a point of getting to know the real person when you meet someone, be curious about their interests and hobbies, talk about family and work but let the relationship develop at it’s own pace and make sure to also share more about yourself over time.

People are understandably reluctant to make commitments to people they can’t relate to so you must expect to invest time before people will trust you and see you as someone of integrity. Your actions will speak louder than words so know that what you say will be monitored but what you do will reveal your true character.

Be someone of integrity and value who is worth knowing and as a natural consequence you’ll become a person of influence.

11 Powerful Ways You Have Been Trumped

Even people who don’t like or trust Donald Trump still pay attention to what he says. Why is that? And even those who dislike him with intensity keep up to date with his latest and most outrageous statements. Why?

Trump skilfully applies several principles of effective communication anyone can copy. These communication skills principles and tactics are worth observing so that you can be more effective in your communication with friends, family and work colleagues in a way that suits your personality and maintains your integrity.

The 11 Ways You Have Been Trumped

1. Have Emotional Impact

Trump gets an emotional response from his audience and he does this by design because he knows emotional people are more likely to listen and follow him. He speaks with energy, enthusiasm and passion when he wants people to pay close attention and he matches this with statements that move people emotionally.

After the Paris terrorist attack he proclaimed he’d ban all muslims from entering the United States if he was President. This tough on terror statement gets attention by forcing frightened people to listen to him. Whether that is a reasonable, fair or practical solution is beside the point for this analysis. His objective is to get attention.

2. Be Different

Donald Trump is different to the other Presidential candidates and he doesn’t try to tone down his image, his rhetoric or his opinions to fit in. Instead he builds on his points of difference to establish himself as the one versus all the rest. He is telling the undecided public it’s a choice between him or the same established politicians as before. He reduces a complex choice to a simple choice, him or the rest.

Because he is different anytime he makes an outrageous statement it’s because he’s independent, he doesn’t need financial backers and he doesn’t have to tow the party line. Even when he is rude or wrong he is still defining himself as the one and only alternative to business as usual.

3. Agitate Fears

Behind the feel good stories of improving economic times a great many people are fearful of the future and unable to speak up because of political correctness. The general public have had to deal with a series of economic setbacks in the past two decades with real estate booms and busts, stock market crashes and job insecurity as the new norm.

When people are scared and feeling unsure about their prospects it doesn’t take much to agitate their fears. Trump isn’t worried about offending anyone so he’ll blame China for taking American jobs and he’ll blame Mexico for illegal immigration. And both statements generate an emotional response in millions who are concerned about financial security.

Again and again, we see Trump deliberately provoking enemies and agitating the fears and concerns of the working man and woman. He does this knowing that rational discussions will not move people to vote for him.

4. Keep it Simple

Most politicians don’t speak plain English and many people don’t trust politicians. Consequently talk of initiatives, resolutions and programs fall on deaf ears. The public has heard it all before and people switch off to political buzz words. Instead, Trump speaks plain English so anyone can follow his points and so he is not immediately assumed to be distrustful by using the tainted language of politicians.

Simplicity is a valuable attribute in a busy world of 24×7 news and constant interruptions. A distracted mind can still process a message that is short, sweet and simple. Simplicity cuts through the clutter we all contend with everyday.

5. Use Repetition

When politicians have a 12 point plan or even a 5 point plan it can get confusing very quickly. After you throw in some counter arguments and lengthy discussion it is hard to keep peoples attention. A far better approach is to focus only on the few issues that really bother people. That’s why Trump will talk again and again about the same few issues, the same few concerns that scare people: illegal immigration, terrorism and job insecurity.

No matter how directly related or indirectly related another issue is he will reframe it as one of those core concerns that he can and will address. That’s why any attentive member of the public can tell you what he stands for. Can the same be said for all of the other presidential candidates?

6. Project Certainty

Trump is always 100% certain, absolutely definite and positive about what he says. His words, his voice tone and his posture are all in agreement even when his ideas seem unfeasible or even completely wrong. The facts don’t matter when you simply want to define your tribe and eliminate those who will never follow you.

While other candidates are careful about what they say and sincere in their efforts to not offend anyone Trump often does the opposite because he is used to being the boss and leading with his vision of the future. He knows people want to be led and he is happy to do so by giving them the sense of certainty they hope for.

7. Be Entertaining

Politicians are hard working members of a political machine that doesn’t tolerate mavericks. Consequently elections are made up of many candidates who share the same world view and behave in the same way. It’s hard for any individual to stand out in the media because they are all so similar.

Trump in contrast knows how to use the media to build his audience. He had a successful media career with The Apprentice and he knows what gets people talking and he knows what goes viral. He is happy to make outrageous statements and he is equally unafraid to offend anyone who gets in his way. He understands the role of the sound bite and even if he is misquoted he is still the one who is getting the media exposure not someone else.

8. Reflect Social Mood

In a politically correct time it is unacceptable to discuss certain issues unless you are in agreement with the prevailing mainstream agendas. Consequently there is a great deal of pent up frustration, anger and dissatisfaction that is not addressed by the politicians of the day. Instead we are told to focus on the positive and to be happy that the economy is improving. Even if the top 20% of society are living happy and prosperous lives there are enough dissatisfied people to create real change once someone speaks to their ignored concerns.

Over the years at the beginning of previous election cycles Trump often explored the idea of running for President but always backed down once it looked like he didn’t have support on the ground. This time was different because the social mood has shifted in this post financial crisis world of the “I can’t afford it” (sharing) economy.

Trump is the option for those who want someone to “make America great again”. Enough people feel lost and uncertain of the future that he can appeal to both patriotic pride and a restoration of lost glory. Not so long ago everyone wanted to be rich, today a lot of people are more concerned about not losing what they have. Trump speaks directly to this fear by promising to fix things and make it like it was in the good old days. This is a very compelling promise for people grieving for the past and looking to the future with pessimism.

9. Offer Understandable Solutions

All politicians offer solutions the only problem is most people don’t understand those solutions and so don’t trust them because it sounds like more of the same failed promises of the past. All the talk of dealing with terrorist threats in the Middle East and restoring American competitiveness don’t mean anything if people can’t imagine what that means.

Trump offers simple solutions that anyone can understand and anyone can visualise. Whether those solutions will ever work is not the point because he is only appealing to those who will or might vote for him. The rest of the population who would never back him are irrelevant especially those who present a rational argument to discount his ideas.

Trump talks about building a wall on the Mexican border and everyone can understand what he is saying. A seasoned politician would talk in terms of facts, figures and new initiatives that leave people unsure about what the proposed solution is. A vague or confusing promise is not a solution anyone can get behind but even a bad, understandable solution can appear better than the unintelligible alternatives.

10. Exude Strength

Most politicians stand tall, work hard and hope to be appointed to better positions. They want approval from their party and from their constituents and they need the backing of their donors. This need to please weakens their ability to be individuals with their own views and opinions. Neediness comes across as polished and over rehearsed efforts to be liked by everyone. Ultimately it turns people into representations of who they would like to be or what the public would like them to be instead of who they really are. And the resulting lack of congruence makes it hard for people to trust them.

On the other hand, Trump is used to being the boss and he is used to getting his way and so he speaks from a position of strength, as a force of habit. His attitude reflects a belief in his abilities as a self made man who doesn’t need the approval of anyone other than the electorate. This unrepressed strength and leadership gives him the vitality of a President that other candidates only take on after being appointed to the position. The other candidates are hoping to be appointed King but Trump is already a self appointed King and he knows it.

11. Demonstrate Insight

Trump has a track record in business that he uses as proof that he can get things done and that he has been right in the past. He can point to a history of making promises and delivering. And he can demonstrate he has intelligence and wisdom by selectively referring to his past predictions that turned out to be true.

At initial glance it sounds like he is almost always right and has been right time and time again. This apparently psychic ability is a natural result of making so many general predictions and statements that he will of course be correct at times. The key is that he reminds people of those correct predictions that confirm his understanding of the select few issues his followers are most concerned about. By doing this he creates an aura of strength backed by a successful track record predicting the future even in today’s difficult times. Yet again he presents himself as someone to be listened to.

Now that we have reviewed the communication skills principles Trump applies in his unique way, do bear in mind how you use these principles is up to you. You can be a person of integrity and use what you have just learned to be persuasive and appreciated while treating others with respect. And you can also use this understanding to spot when others are attempting to influence you. Either way these are essential skills to master in a world where the best communicators tend to dominate and win.