How to persuade peopleLeadership & Influence

How To Influence People At Work

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New behavioral sciences research is increasingly showing us how to influence people and persuade them effectively. And it is easy to learn.

For all this time, many of us have only dreamed of being able to grow and build our influence in the workplace. It’s as if one is either born with the ability to lead and influence. Or, destined to forever be insignificant. All is not lost, though.

Man in blue pants and shirt with his hands on his head to represent someone who has difficulty influencing people at work.

Why It Is Difficult To Influence People In The Workplace

You can be certain of one thing, though. From the confusing way influencing people is taught, it is no wonder that many of us find it difficult to be persuasive at work. And it holds far too many of us back. Unnecessarily.

The majority of leadership training we are given on growing our influence in any field is needlessly complicated. They focus on a long list of techniques that yield little impact. We are told that many successful CEOs and business leaders influence that way. And so we fall for it. But can you remember a technique you have been taught and tried out that has worked for you?

How To Influence People The Right Way

Now is a good time to let you in on a secret many management gurus don’t want you to know — it is easy to influence and persuade people. The difficult part is finding your way through the flash and dazzle of influence coaching. And then home in on the simple techniques that succeed. The ones that actually make you influential and get you noticed in the workplace.

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The true way to grow your influence lies in your ability to employ the most basic of techniques that go undetected. Soon you will learn the correct way to influence anyone and convince them to your point of view.

This is a powerful approach. You must only use it to grow your influence positively, and never to manipulate someone in the workplace.

1. Influence People Without Them Being Aware

There are two basics which you must know for you to influence people in the workplace correctly. Firstly, people make every important decision deep in their subconscious minds.

And secondly, the reasoning ability of our conscious (rational) minds evolved more for the sake of winning arguments than for decision making.

Pay close attention to what this is telling us about how we should NOT go about persuading people:

If you try to convince someone by directly reasoning with them through their conscious mind — as most other schools of workplace influence teach — you will typically encounter a roadblock. This is the single biggest factor that results in unsuccessful influencing. It mostly triggers mental argumentation and resistance in others, rather than compliance.

Few people know this. So, your initial influencing should always employ techniques that are not sensed by the person you are influencing, but work on them subconsciously. People will not resist what they don’t detect.

Influencing this way does not come naturally to any of us. We feel the urge to reason with people first. But if you are able to check your instincts, it is easy to do.

How to correctly make this initial subliminal connection when persuading people is discussed in the steps below.

2. Put The Other Person’s Needs First When Influencing People

Don’t start with talking about your own credentials, expertise or needs. Instead, make it all about the other person. Focus only on yourself, and you are essentially looking past the very person you expect to influence.

Almost all persuasion taught these days is based on getting you to communicate better, boosting your visibility, your network and reputation, and framing your arguments and sales pitches better. How can you expect to get someone on your side if it is all about you and your needs?

People will light up if the conversation is about them — their dreams and aspirations. Who and what they are afraid of, and who is to blame for what they lack.

The best influencers and persuaders know this and always start with the needs of others.

Two women and a man talking in the workplace and showing interest in one another.

Importantly, this process releases dopamine in people’s brains resulting in what’s called motivational salience — a cognitive process that motivates their behavior towards you. This makes them automatically bond to you. With genuine reasons, explain to them why none of what they lack or are afraid of is any fault of theirs. Find their real enemies and join them in the fight against what makes them scared and what they despise. This real connection is how you can truly start to build your influence on others in the workplace.

Did This Approach Influence You?

If you doubt how effective this is, go back to the beginning of this article and re-read the introduction. You will find this approach there. If the technique worked on you, that is your filter for recognizing a Master Influencer move.

This initial technique of persuading someone and how to connect with them is outlined more fully in a book, written by Blair Warren — The One Sentence Persuasion Course – 27 Words to Make the World Do Your Bidding.

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3. Mimic Their Emotional State Prior To Persuading People

In real persuasion, it does not depend that much on what you say when you ask for something. The key is what the other person experiences before they hear your request. We make our decisions based on how we feel. Our reasoning is just a slave to our emotions.


To connect emotionally, use the technique of pacing and leading to get people in a cognitive state where they will be more agreeable with you. It’s easy to do with a little practice. You can read more on pacing and leading here.

Match their tone and pattern of speaking. More importantly, mimic their emotional state. This will help forge a sense of unity with them which has a powerful influencing undertone — framing you as being one with them or as their leader.

4. Make Your Request Visual And Simple To Influence People Effectively

Your main pitch should be fully understood in 5 seconds or less. Visual persuasion is the most effective form. If you get people to imagine clearly where you want to lead them, they are convinced more readily.

The human capacity to process information is limited. Keep the request simple and don’t complicate it with unnecessary details. Describe it in a way that they are able to quickly construct a mental image of your pitch.


5. Now Give Them Reasons So They Can Justify Saying “Yes” To You

People still believe they make decisions rationally. So, once you have won over their subconscious mind and have primed it to be more receptive to your ideas, all they need now are reasons for saying yes to you. In truth, these are only excuses to do what their inner self has already been nudged to do by your initial influence.

If you do steps 1 to 4 successfully, you will be amazed at how little resistance you get from people your are persuading now. Rather than with even the most eloquent reasoning done prior to making an emotional connection with the people you want to influence.

Bottom Line On How To Influence People

Every decision we make is first made deep in our subconscious and is only later propped up with reasoning. We essentially suffer from an illusion of choice. Our conscious mind ends up creating a fictitious story around the decision that the unconscious had already made for us. This cognitive deception fools us into thinking that decision-making works through our rational, reasoning mind.

Master Influencers can get others aligned with them even before making a request. That is how real influence happens in life. It works because it engages an automatic response in people to say YES to you. Few people are aware of this. Thus, you will wield great power by using what you have learned here. You will finally grow your ability to lead, influence and persuade people at work.

A lady wearing a red dress at work with her coworkers handing one of them a clip board with papers.

Best Approach To Influence People At Work

Never start influencing people by trying to convince them through reasoning or logic. First, make sure you you have established a relationship with them. Spend time on their needs and provide them with something of value.

Mimic their emotional state. Let them know you understand their position. Validate their feelings.

If you do this right, you will have established credibility with them. In this state, they will be looking for ways to reciprocate back to you. They will be primed to look for reasons to say yes to you now. If you ask or influence people directly without any prior groundwork, hoping your advanced reasoning and arguments will carry they day, you will have limited success.

Practice Influencing People And Sharpen Your Skills

Think back on recent areas where you have tried to influence at work but have not had much success. Now try it again, but use the new approach and understanding you’ve learned here.

You will find a much easier path to influencing people even though your main line of thinking and reasons you provide remain the same. Now, sit back and experience the joy that real leaders get while growing their influence in the workplace.

Enjoy your new superpowers, but use them ethically and only for good. You are now a Master Influencer!

If you want to get deeper insights and other ideas for how to influence people, these books will help you.

Shaun Mendonsa, PhD is an influencing expert and pharmaceutical development leader. He writes on the topics of influence and persuasion, and develops next generation drugs in human pharma by advising international pharmaceutical CROs and CMOs.


Build influence in the workplace, How to influence people, Leadership skills and abilities, Power and influence in the workplace, Persuade others as a leader

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