Whether you’re starting out in an entry-level position or you are the CEO, you have things that you want to accomplish, and you want your voice to be heard.
Perhaps you’ve been researching your field and realize that in order to keep up with your competition, major changes need to be made. Or maybe a person in authority doesn’t like you and actively tries to shoot down or dismiss your ideas.
How do you make yourself heard when circumstances or other people seem to be holding you back? Everyone wants to have influence at work, but it seems some people have it by default and others have no influence at all.
Here are six things anyone can do, regardless of position, to increase their influence:
One of the easiest ways to have influence in the workplace without a title is to make allies. This is something anyone can succeed in. People want to. No one wakes up hoping to make more enemies. Make as many allies as you can.
Realize That Not Everyone Is Going to Like You
That’s ok. If, in spite of your best efforts to be genuine and kind, a coworker or colleague is still oppositional, leave it at that. Continue to be kind, but don’t pursue that person as an ally. If 80% of your results come from 20% of your activity, it’s best to spend the bulk of your time investing in people with whom you know you will get results.
I like to refer to this aspect as GNC. Same initials as the supplement store, but for me it stands for Goals, Needs, and Concerns. Know your allies’ goals, needs and concerns. Ask questions with sincerity – where do they see their career taking them in the future? What improvements would they make if they ran their department or the company? Ask about their kids, their weekends, ask for their advice. You may not be able to take care of their needs for them, but you can still show you are listening. There are lots of little ways to show you care. Spend your break picking up their favorite beverage if they’ve had a hard morning, or bring in a balloon on their child’s birthday. Talk them up when their boss is in the room. You don’t have to act on every piece of information that you’re given, but being an ally isn’t a one-way street. It requires building and maintaining trust.
To everyone. Your allies. The people who refuse to become your allies. Your bosses. Your team. The people you manage. All of them! You can be the guy who brings in donuts on Friday or the gal who always remembers someone’s favorite coffee. It’s hard, but smile and greet people by name in the morning, and say goodbye on your way out at night. Make eye contact, help out the receptionists, give sincere compliments.
The fastest way to destroy all the work you’ve done is by gossiping. If someone confides in you regarding their struggles – at work or at home – it is always best to keep it to yourself. Unless someone is threatening to harm herself or others, you should consider yourself sworn to secrecy. Trust is built slowly and destroyed in an instant. Don’t sabotage your own success by sharing information that isn’t yours.
This is another area where you can destroy all the work you’ve done. Slipping in late, sneaking out early, stealing clients, wasting company time – these are all things that your allies will see. And if they observe this behavior, you will be viewed as less trustworthy. Not all negative situations can be avoided. Everyone’s been late due to an accident on the freeway at some point. I’m not saying you have to be perfect, just that you need to strive to be a person of character.
As you build trust with your allies, your influence will grow. As your influence grows, your voice will be heard and you will be well on your way to reaching your goals.
Apply these and additional priniciples to your own journey to become more influential. In his home study course Influence without Authority: How to Get YES to Your Request, Ed Tate gives you tips, tools and tactics to add to your influence tool kit.