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What Influencing Really Means

        posted by , June 07, 2013

Authority is good, influence is better.

Influence is how business gets done. It's the basis for all commerce and productivity.

You need to influence others. To get a job. To make a sale. To get your work done. Influencing is a fundamental social skill that we all have. However, there's a big difference in influencing skills from one person to another.

Influencing skills can be cultivated and improved.

What is Influencing?

Influencing is using the art of persuasion to affect actions.

In other words, influencing is convincing someone to change their ideas or actions. Most business conversations involve some degree of influencing.

What's Influencing Without Authority?

If you're someone's boss it's easier to influence them because you have authority over them. In many cases, you still need to use influence when you have authority. Nevertheless, authority tends to make influencing easier.

In real business situations, you often don't have authority over people you need to influence. In a job interview, you need to influence an organization to hire you. In a sales situation you influence a customer to buy. You may need to influence executive management in your organization to get budget approvals or set direction for your team.

Influencing without authority is the ability to change people's minds by persuasion alone (without authority).

Definition: Influence Without Authority

Influencing without authority is applying the art of persuasion to affect the actions of people over whom you have no authority. In many cases, this means influencing people who have authority over you.

Why is Influencing Important?

Most business objectives require influencing people outside your authority. Even if you have a great deal of authority — influence is a critical skill.

Influencing is a significant factor in leadership, marketing, sales, negotiation, office politics, time management and productivity.

Minor improvements in your influencing skills tend to yield business and personal results.

How I Influence?

Influencing isn't a single skill. It's a collection of soft skills that help you to persuade people to a course of action.

Skills that are commonly associated with influencing include:

  • Persuasive Techniques
    Using an effective emotional or logical argument to change someone's mind.

  • Networking
    Before you can influence people you need to meet them. It's easier to influence people you know.

    networking style

  • Establishing Rapport
    People are more easily influenced by people they like.

  • Emotional Intelligence
    People are influenced as much by emotion as any other factor. Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive and use emotions to achieve a result.

    more: list of emotional intelligence skills

  • Communication Skills
    Influencing depends on communication. The better your spoken, written and visual communication skills the better you'll influence. Listening skills are also critical.

    more: communication skills guide

  • Public Speaking
    Public speaking allow you to influence people both within and outside your professional network.

    more: public speaking guide

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