We all need to influence people at work, but it’s easier said than done.

And it feels especially fraught when the stakes are high, like making the case for your promotion, justifying a pay raise or getting a client to award your company a big contract.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to just blurt out the thing you desperately want – “hey, I deserve that promotion and the raise that goes with it!” – but the odds are that won’t work.

So how do you influence someone to your point of view?

The keys to being influential

I was on a Zoom call with a potential client and we were just getting to the part of the conversation about why they should accept my proposal and hire me. This was a golden opportunity to use my influencing skills.

Armed with convincing arguments about the benefits of working with me, I felt good about the conversation we were about to have. Then, just as I was about to launch into my carefully prepared speech came a flash of insight.

See it from their point of view

If I were in my client’s shoes, I wouldn’t want someone to convince me to accept their proposal. And I certainly wouldn’t want to listen to a 5-minute monologue about how great a job they would do.

So I put aside my prepared “speech” on the benefits of working with me and asked them what would make it worthwhile from their perspective to work together.

Help them sell themselves on the benefits

We had a great conversation where I uncovered their key sticking point and we talked about how I could help them address it. Together, we came up with a solution that was easy for me to do and valuable for them. A win-win!

For you, maybe it’s helping your manager sell themselves on the benefits of your promotion by asking, “If I were to take on greater responsibilities in our department, what would that free you up to focus on?”

But what if they don’t see things the same way you do?

If the people you’re influencing don’t immediately see your side of the story, think of it as a golden opportunity to test out some of your assumptions.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to influence your manager to increase your hiring budget and you expect them to be concerned about cost. So you build your case on how you’ll get a return on that higher investment but get turned down.

Then you ask about their concerns and it turns out their real issue is with the precedent it will set if they say “yes” to your request. And helping them address that challenge is the key to getting the outcome you want.

If you truly want to influence someone, start by asking questions and focusing on what they find valuable.

Just don’t make the mistake of not advocating for yourself

Life is short and you don’t want to have regrets. And for many of us, the biggest regrets are the things we didn’t do or say.

Once you’ve put yourself in their shoes and understood what’s valuable to them, you owe it to yourself to speak up on your own behalf and say the things you’ll regret not saying.

Remember, influencing starts with the person you’re trying to influence

Before you launch into your prepared speech, put yourself in their shoes and invite them to share their views. Then you’ll know how to frame your points to focus on what they care about most. And that’s the key to a mutually beneficial outcome.

How can these strategies help you influence others to your point of view at work?

Leave a comment and let me know.