How to develop influencing skills

Some people seem to be born with it. An innate ability to persuade others with fervour and ease. Whereas others struggle to gain buy-in for their ideas or proposals. What the difference between these two types of people?  Why is it that one person can influence effectively, and another cannot? Is one’s ability to influence a quality or a skill?

One of the largest misconceptions about influence is that is a quality. In fact, it is not. It is very much a skill that can be practiced and refined to improve influencing conversations and substantive outcomes.

There are many ways to influence others. If you’re looking to build influencing skills take caution. Many books, training providers and materials approach influence with the wrong intention. Many practise and espouse influencing techniques that do more harm than good. Taking a negative approach to influence and coercing others to gain their buy in may be successful in the short term but does very little in the long term. By taking an aggressive or coercive approach to influence we are naturally compromising our relationship with others and our own reputation.

The question now becomes, how do we develop influencing skills that set us up for long term success?

 What are influencing skills?

Whether we’re looking to develop influencing skills or improve influencing skills we need to start by understanding what influence is and where it comes.  Influence is a process of communication aimed at changing the thinking, decisions and actions of others. Influencing skills are skills that assist you in changing thinking and decision making in others that leads to take action. One of the biggest mistakes many people make when seeking to influence others is that they focus too heavily on getting action from others and not changing their thinking and decision-making ability first.

Very broadly, there are four sources of influence. If we’re looking build influences skills, these four sources are a great place to start. The four sources of influence are Value, Legitimacy, Relationship and Power. Essentially these four sources are tools we can rely upon to influence others.

It’s important to acknowledge that if we’re looking to develop influencing skills that each of these sources can be used individually and all together depending on the type of influencing conversation you’re having.

Good Influencing Skills for Negotiation

Many influencing techniques can be used in the course of any negotiation. One of the many benefits of influencing skills is that they are applicable to a wide variety of personal and professional conversations.  Some of the best influencing skills to use when in the process of negotiation include.

Active listening

One of the most powerful tools you can use in the course of any negotiation or influencing conversation is to really listen to your counterpart. All too often we are listening to reply and not listening to understand. Listen will enable us to understand the challenges of a negotiation more effectively.

Sharing data and evidence effectively

One of the best influencing skills for negotiation is to be able to share data and evidence effective. To share it in a way that seems objectively wise and logical. No one wants to make a bad decision so sharing data and evidence in a negotiation can easily boost your chances of reaching an ideal outcome.

Creating value

One of the top influencing skills in any negotiation is one’s ability to create value. Value not only for themselves but also for the party with whom they are negotiating. When we talk about creating value, we are referring to one’s ability to generate ideas and solutions that meet the needs of both parties. Value that is more than just compromise but build great outcomes for both parties in the negotiation.

7 principles of influence

If we’re using influencing techniques in our conversations to boost buy in, there are 7 principles we should stick to. These principles are a guideline for any conversation where you are seeking to influence another.

  1. Know you audience

 When seeking to influence others we need to start with ensuring we understand who they are, and what they are motivated by. If we don’t know these things, we need to ask.

  1. Be clear on your purpose

The clearer you are on your purpose, the clearer the purpose of the conversation becomes to the person you are seeking to influence. Know why you want to talk to this person and make it clear to them.   

  1. Identify problems/opportunities

In the process of an influencing conversation, we want to make it clear that there is a problem or opportunity that exists for both parties to solve.

  1. Be ready and open to share ideas

It’s important that you come to an influencing conversation ready to share your ideas and listen to the ideas of others.

  1. Have data and evidence ready

Being equip with data and evidence to support your proposal or idea is crucial. Particularly to those individuals who are persuaded by facts and figures.

  1. Manage the steps that follow

Make it a priority to take ownership of following up with people after an influencing conversation. Managing the process steps after a conversation will likely result in more consistent action from others.

  1. Be genuine

Do what feels right. If you are being disingenuous in a conversation, it’s usually obvious and can do more harm than good.

Best persuasive techniques

Having a set of established techniques that will assist you in your influencing conversations is imperative. Some effective influencing techniques are listed below.

Understand their value

It’s important to be able to engage in the process of creating value in your influencing conversations. That is to say creating benefits and options that are mutually beneficial.

The benefits of taking a value driven approach far outweigh those approaches that are solely driven by individual motivations. Being able to successfully influence includes keeping the relationship intact and the person you’re seeking buy in from viewing you as a collaborator and not an adversary.

Build long term relationships

When it comes to influence, we want to build and manage our stakeholder relationships so their perceptions of us supports our ability to influence them. It’s incredibly important to nurture existing relationships and effectively build new relationships to make the influencing process easier in the long term.

Developing a strategy for long term relationships becomes about getting connected, developing a clear intention and measuring impact in any given relationship. Relationship management is one of the most important influencing skills. It should form quite a large portion of any face to face or virtual influencing skills training.

Discuss the Natural consequence of Non-Cooperation

What do we do when we find ourselves trying to influence another person and can’t seem to reach an agreement? When the person we’re trying to influence is uncompromising? One option available to us here is to highlight the natural consequences of non-cooperation. We’re sharing with our counterpart, what will naturally come to pass if we don’t cooperate. We provide objective data that is relevant to both of you. In doing so, we’re highlighting – unthreateningly – the benefits of cooperation. 

1 Key to Strengthen Your Ability to Influence Others

Without a doubt the key to strengthening your ability to influence others is to focus on your relationship with that person. One of the most impactful and best influencing skills is building relationship with others. You want to ensure your relationship with this person is open and trusting in nature. We want to ensure that their perception of you supports your ability to influence them. Focus your energy on your relationship with them distinct from your proposal.

Take some time to identify how to connect with others before during and after your influencing conversation. If you have a relationship that you’re looking to improve, consider what might be causing the difficulty between you and how to best move past it. The best relationships deal well with difference.

Top 3 Influencing Skills

Below are the three top influencing skills. Though it isn’t easy to prioritize influencing skills in order, the skills below are amongst the top influencing skills used most regularly in influencing conversations. If you’re looking to develop influencing skills. These three superstars are a great place to start.

  • Preparing

 All too often we go into influencing conversations unprepared or under prepared. When was the last time you sat down to strategize your approach to an influencing conversation and thought though all the aspects of the conversation?

  • Communicating

We often don’t put enough emphasis on what we’re saying and how we say it in our influencing conversations. We need to become clear on our messaging and knowing the key questions we need to ask. Being able to communicate effectively makes our ability to influence others easier.

  • Relationship building

Your ability to build genuine and trusting relationships with people will correlate with your ability to influence them.

How to practice influencing

If you’re looking to practice influencing, you need to ensure you have a process or framework to follow. Often the best influencing skills are taught by learning providers. Learning providers will assist you to develop influencing skills and also highlight some of the benefits of influencing skills. They can take you through some of the best influencing techniques and share with you a clear and concise process to follow to ensure you establish top influencing skills.

Many training providers will not only equip you with a framework to follow but also influencing skills exercises to allow you to practice in a safe and structured environment. They often provide influencing skills examples for you to follow. You will likely apply a framework or process to influencing skills examples and receive feedback from a coach or facilitator.

You may also consider connecting with a mentor within your workplace. You may be surprised to find that one or more people in your office have already undertaken influencing skills courses and might be happy to share their learning and provide advice on their experiences. You can practice your skills together.

Influencing skills exercises

The best way to build influencing skills, test out influencing techniques and improve influencing skills is to engage in influencing skill exercises.

If you have recently completed a face to face or online influencing skills course, to improve your newly developed skills you need to practice. It’s incredibly important to make time for practice. Without actively allocating time from our day or ensuring you hone and refine your skill, it’s hard to improve. Many providers of influencing skills courses in Australia offer coaching both virtually and face to face. Coaching allows for immediate feedback on your progress and provides a safe environment to test out new approaches and strategies. You are usually given the opportunity to work through influencing examples

Receiving coaching to improve influencing skills is less about measuring the substantive outcomes of your influencing conversations and more about measuring your growth when applying new skills. Not all influencing skills exercises online will put emphasis on long term growth and improvement compared to short term gains. It’s important to choose an online influence skills course provider that uses influencing skills exercises that don’t focus solely on result.


It’s fair to say that influencing is a skill that can be incredibly useful in an array of situations. The skill, not quality, of influencing is something that can be improved and developed. We can improve our influencing techniques and build influencing skills through influencing skills exercises.

The benefits of influencing skills are many. They make our personal and professional lives easier, allow us to get buy-in quickly and build relationships for the long term. The best way to develop influencing skills is to engage in training.  Training will enable you to not only learn the top influencing skills but also improve existing influencing skills.

With many influencing techniques available, it’s important to invest your time and energy in influencing training that sets you up for success.

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