How To Influence People In Business

How To Influence People In Business

How To Influence People In Business 

By Mark Wager

Success is never a singular effort, success demands that you are able to influence those around you whether it’s your Boss, co-workers or clients. It doesn’t matter how good you are you will find many barriers standing between you and success and those barriers will remain unless you can persuade people to help you on your journey, people who can help you open the right doors and create opportunities that your talent deserves yet influencing people is a skill which is why in this weeks article I want to explore some techniques that will help you influence people in business.

The Theory Of Influence

There has been a lot of work on determining  the factors that decides whether a person says yes or no but one of the most significant pieces of work was by Robert Cialdini who in 1984 released a book called Influence: "The Psychology of Persuasion" which went on to sell three million copies in over thirty languages. In the book Cialdini details the six main factors that will help you influence people to say "yes".


  • Give and take

We are more likely to say yes to people who have been kind to us previously. It's part of our nature to reflect the behaviours that we see demonstrated to us. It's natural, it's how we have survived as a species and it's part of everyday life. If someone does something nice for you then you are likely to want to do something nice for them in return. If someone is loyal to you then you will be loyal to them.

If you want people to be on your side then you need to be prepared to be on the side of other people beforehand. Work hard and go the extra mile and make sure people see you as a team player.

Social Proof

  • People follow the lead of others

Imagine the scenario where you are walking down the street and in front of you is a group of people who are staring at the sky - what do you do? Do you ignore the crowd and walk around them or do you pause momentarily and look up to see what everyone else is looking at? If you would also look up then you are not alone, the vast majority of people would do the same. People are more likely to say yes when this gives them a sense of unity.

If you want people to agree with one of your ideas then do your research and find out if your idea has been produced elsewhere and if so how did it work out. People are reluctant to take the first step but they are likely to follow if they've seen others take that step.


  • People like those who like them 

The science of marketing can be broken down into three words: know, like, trust. We are more likely to say yes to companies, products and people that we know, we like and we trust. It's not a coincidence that the best salespeople are also very skilled at the art of flattery. We like people who like us.

You don't have to become best friends people in business, in fact that is likely to cause more difficulties than benefits but you do have to be courteous and friendly. It's not easy being in business it's useful to bear that in mind sometimes.


  • People align with their clear commitments

When people make a commitment there is an internal pressure that they themselves create to ensure that commitment is followed through. There's been many experiments in the theory but one that comes to mind is when in the 1988 United States election people were asked if they would vote. Of those who said yes 86.7% went onto vote compared to 61.5% of those who weren't asked.

If you want to influence people, ask them to commit. Avoid getting answers like "I'll try" "I'll see what I can do" and focus on getting a commitment to what they will specifically do and when exactly they will do it. A spoken commitment makes it 26% more likely that it will actually happen


  • People defer to experts 

People are influenced by people who have authority whether that authority is formal or applied. You don't have to have a job title or a uniform in order to be an authority, what you do need is expertise . If you have knowledge and you can offer answers to questions then you become an authority that influences people to say yes.

If you want to influence people then increase your expertise or look for authorities sources such as studies that support your argument. Another useful tip is to dress like someone who demands authority, don't dress for the job you are currently in instead dress for the job you want next. 


  • People want what they cant have

The scarcity principle is when there are limited resources and time restraints increase the perceived value of the item. This means that when we consider something is hard to obtain then we value it more highly and as a result want it more,  making us more willing to say yes. You see this often in advertising or in shops when they say a sale is about to end or there's only a few items left in stock.

People are more motivated by avoiding what they could lose rather than what they can gain. If you want to influence people be aware of your market value and what other career options you have, this will give you leverage in any future discussion.

Mark Wager has limited availably to coach ambitious Leaders who wish to achieve a higher level of performance. If you are interested then you can contact Mark using the enquiry form below

Posted: Thursday 11 August 2022

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