How to Build Influence at Work

January 4, 2023


Having influence over the people around you could manifest itself in different ways. It could look like a coworker bringing you coffee to try and impress you. It could mean colleagues deferring to you at a crossroads to make a judgment call. It could even mean a manager or boss putting you in the lead role of a project. But before you can use influence, you have to know how to build influence at work. 

But what is influence? And why should it matter if you have it or not?

Influence: Why Is It a Helpful Tool in the Workplace?

Having influence is a helpful tool no matter what aspect of life you use it in. However, when it comes to the workplace, it can be invaluable.

Your career is where you want to gain the respect and trust of your peers. This will allow you to grow and further help you reach your goals. The workplace is also often a highly collaborative place. How you connect with others matters.

Having influence is more than simply telling people what to do. In fact, that’s the distinct difference between influence and power.

When you have influence at work, your coworkers look to you as someone they trust. They may trust you in a leadership role. They trust your judgment when deciding which path to take during a project. They also look to you when networking and pitching their ideas to others. 

First, Let’s Define Influence

How do you define influence? The term “influence” generally means the capacity or potential to have an effect on someone’s character, development, or behavior. Every person at your workplace, no matter what level they are, carries a certain level of influence. 

We often consider higher-ranking colleagues to have the most influence, based on authority or experience. However, you don’t have to wait until you’re promoted or making a certain salary to garner influence and use it. 

Influence comes in many forms. Money, authority, and charisma are influential traits. But don’t rule out how influential the quality of trustworthiness is. 

For example, think of a colleague at work you really trust. If they tell you that there’s a spreadsheet program that will make your life one hundred times easier, you’re going to be more inclined to try it. That’s influence. 

How Can You Influence Positively in the Workplace?

Being a positive influence in the workplace is not only great for you and your team. It can also create a lasting effect on your work as a whole, and how colleagues see you.

For example, think of a time when you and your team got negative feedback from a client. Instead of wallowing in disappointment, you congratulate the team on their hard work. Think of someone who takes critiques and notes from clients and reframes them. Now, you know which mistakes to avoid and how to improve your quality of work next time. 

The effect of a positive voice can be invaluable to your colleagues’ morale. 

Start by listening to what the people around you have to say and follow through on your promises. Those two practices earn the trust and respect of coworkers. 

Be flexible and consistent. Don’t try to be someone you’re not to make people like you. Being true, honest, and compassionate will win the day every time. 

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