Part of building a strong career and establishing yourself as an indispensable employee in a new job is learning how to get people to see things from your point of view. If you can convince people to trust your judgment, you can build a team of people that will follow your lead and agree with your strategies.
Discovery Learning, Inc. and Innovative Pathways conducted research to identify and measure influence styles and concluded that there are five basic styles of influencing others. You should use each of these based on the situation and the people you are with. Read on to learn about these styles and learn ways you can build influence in your workplace.
Asserting is the most dominating style of influence. Here, you insist that your thoughts and ideas are heard and you challenge all other ideas to stand up to yours. This style of influence works best if you are already an established leader who is used to delegating and giving orders. You can expect others to follow you here if you’re already a trusted member in your workplace.
When you choose this style of collaboration, be careful that you’re not being aggressive instead of assertive. You should be confident when discussing your thoughts, but don’t over-project or you’ll run the risk of sounding arrogant and hard to work with.
Usually used when you’re part of a group project, convincing others to back your ideas involves a lot more work than assertion. You have to offer logical reasons why your ideas are best and provide a plan on how to implement each step. There is a lot of prep work to do here and convincing works best after you’ve already built up reliability and trust with others. Do your work consistently and well and you’ll have a much easier time convincing others that you know what you’re talking about.
If there are several ideas on how to implement a new strategy that are all equally promising, you may want to consider negotiation. Making compromises that include parts of everyone’s plan will ensure your ideas get implemented and show that you’re a team player. When you stay open to other people’s thoughts, you may end up with a better plan than one you came up with on your own.
Even better, listening to everyone’s thoughts makes your co-workers feel like you are a fair thinker that values their opinion. You’re building trust with every person you listen to, especially if you listen to them on a regular basis. Do this often enough and people will think of you every time they need help coming to an agreement with another person.
Being flexible is the key here and when you do stand your ground in another situation, people will remember that you were more fluid in the past and they will be more likely to listen to you.
Similar to negotiations, bridging helps you connect to others and build stronger relationships with others on your team. The difference here, is that you may not be the one presenting any of the ideas. In these situations, you listen to everyone’s thoughts and create a coalition of ideas that incorporate all of them without adding your own. You should strive to be as neutral as possible and give everyone the chance to contribute.
While you may not be presenting your own ideas, you can still advocate for what you think is best.
When you take this route to build influence, you have to come to terms with the fact that your thoughts may not make the final cut. Your goal here is not to ensure things come out your way, but to bring others to the table and encourage them to share their thoughts and ideas to build a shared sense of purpose for any exciting possibilities.
You can start by advocating your position, but then encourage others to come up with their own or improve upon yours! Consistently listening and prompting others to give feedback establishes you as a lynchpin for open discussion and communication. You’re building even more trust and helping other open up and feel more positive about their opinions.
You may be drawn to one particular style over another, especially if your situation at work caters better to any one of them. Once you’ve examined your situation and reviewed your own preferences, you can start asserting, convincing, negotiating, bridging or inspiring. Take note of which style works best in different situations and keep an eye on how people’s opinions of you change as you use them.
You may not be a natural at all of these negotiation styles, but practice makes perfect. Use them any time you can — from small problems to large. As you work through each situation, you’ll learn better ways to approach problems, people and solutions to make everything work better. Don’t get discouraged if you feel like you didn’t succeed. Some of these styles work best over the long term and will still help you build influence — even if you don’t get immediate results.
Whether you are a leader, collaborator or follower, you will always need to influence others to succeed. Your strategies may change, depending on what you’re facing, but if you have all the tools and you’ve practiced all of these influence styles, you can ensure your coworkers look to you when they need help.
Thinking of hiring a career coach to help you gain more confidence and influence in the workplace? Browse our directory of career coaches and get a FREE consultation or request a personalized coach recommendation!
Jordan Perez is a freelance writer based in Woodland Hills, California. She’s been a professional resume writer and has written for a number of industries over the last 10 years — getting published across a number of digital platforms. In her free time, she enjoys re-reading all of her favorite novels.