The corporate world is a ‘jungle in here,’ and you can get entangled in thorny problems and spiky, sharp people, which can make for a miserable time. Or you can put on your rainproof gear and enjoy what the jungle has to offer with its teeming world of diversity, creativity and possibilities.
Successfully traversing the corporate jungle depends on your ability to influence others, whether it’s to have them follow your path, mentor you, give your project the go-ahead, support your cause or invest in your game-changing business idea.
Influencing others takes practice and skill. Here are ten tips on how to be more influential in the workplace today:
1. Cultivate trust by being open and honest. Trust can’t be demanded; it needs to be earned whether you’re in a position of authority or you want to influence co-workers and your manager.
2. Be reliable and consistent in everything you do. Consistency is especially important when you’re not in charge and you need to demonstrate dedication to your responsibilities and your team. Regardless of your position in the company, if you’re inconsistent with your values and behaviour, people won’t know where they stand with you or whether they can trust you.
3. Exude Confidence in the way you stand, walk, sit and talk. Know that you are worthy of your current role and place at work even if others can’t see it or don’t respect you. However, you don’t want to come across as an arrogant, know-it-all, as this will alienate you from friends and foe alike.
4. Practice being a good listener: One of the most important communication skills is listening. According to some experts, it is also the skill most lacking in the corporate world. If you’re an amazing listener, others will be more receptive when you have something to say and will more easily go along with your ideas.
5. Get personal as a professional, and that means talking to people in the office you don’t normally talk to. Show interest and curiosity in your colleagues’ lives outside of work. When someone says hello to you, resist responding with cynical clichés like “living the dream.” I don’t think that’s how you speak with your friends, so why speak like that at work? And if you’re in charge, get to know your team beyond meetings and formal settings. As a leader, you can rule from lofty heights, but if you haven’t cultivated a personal bond with your team, you won’t influence them.
6. Make strategic connections: While you should be friendly and get to know colleagues you share a kitchen with, you should also think about work relationships strategically by building connections with influential people, internal leaders and industry experts on LinkedIn. Network internally and externally. However, don’t approach strategic connections with a selfish mindset. Instead, let them know you’d like to help them in some capacity.
7. Work on side projects. Stretch yourself and do something that’s not part of your regular job description, especially if it takes you out of your normal team environment. You’ll meet new colleagues, build rapport and have the opportunity to garner a wider circle of influence.
8. Become known as an expert. It pays if you’re passionate about your work especially if it’s in a particular field. If so, invest in continually learning about your area of specialisation to build expertise. As you continually hone your expertise, you will be viewed as an authority in your field, which in turn makes you more influential.
9. Be kind, polite and helpful. We’ve all worked with sullen, angry, abrupt or obnoxious people. They’re generally tolerated because they’re good at one thing. However, they’re not influential. They’re kept in a dark corner and brought out every once in a while to do their thing. Being polite, courteous and helpful is fundamental to being a person of influence. Sure, occasionally you’ll find rude people in positions of authority; make no mistake, they may rule by fear but they have zero influence.
10. Practice emotional self-control. Influential people are a delight to work with. That’s because they’re mostly happy and display consistent moods. Emotionally disciplined people can be introverted or extraverted but what they have in common is an ability to check their emotions when under pressure or when dealing with toxic people or situations. Others gravitate to their poised and calm aura. So, be consistently calm in the eye of the storm, and you will become more influential.
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