21/07/2022Why Influencing Without Authority is Today’s Top In-Demand Skill

Efrat Gazit

Is there someone in your organization who you’re always ready to help? Even if you’re overloaded, you’ll fast-track their request or put something aside to assist them?

Some people seem to have that magic touch. That ineffable “something” that helps them to make friends and influence people. It could be that they’re born that way. But it’s also a skill that can, and should, be learned.

In the working world, you’re reliant on the cooperation of others — whether it’s your teammates, other departments, vendors, or customers — to succeed. Your reputation precedes you. People already perceive you in a certain way. 

Your ability to influence and persuade people is based on the relationships you’ve built and how much you’ve invested in them. 

It can be seen through two main prisms: being (your presence) and doing (your sphere of influence). There are three behaviors you can adopt that will lead to greater trust, openness, and willingness to cooperate:

  1. Show interest in people 

Being goal-driven is great. Just remember to make time for people too.

You know the type. From the moment they arrive to the moment they leave, they’re totally focused on their work. They don’t pay attention to anything or anyone else. By contrast, there are those who make a point of making eye contact and ask how people are – when they arrive and during their busy day. 

Take time for small talk, show interest in what’s going on in people’s personal lives, within the boundaries of cultural mores. Wish them well before an important presentation. Check in to see how it went. (Don’t just be “nice” when you need something. People can smell fake interest from a mile away.)

The same goes for virtual meetings. You can get straight to business or take the time to connect with people and show them you see them as human beings, to engage with them, and create a sense of intimacy.

  1. Treat people with respect
    Before making a request or decision, consider the impact on others

Respect comes from the Latin verb respicere which means to “look back at.” If you respect someone, before you make a decision, respond, or act you’ll take a second look at the situation from the other person’s point of view.

When you respect people, you make decisions that don’t necessarily solely benefit your interests, but also take into account other people’s interests and needs. You can immediately tell when someone’s taking an “it’s my way or the highway” approach or they’re taking the needs of others into consideration. 

When you’re flexible, whether it’s about the daily lunch order or a major project, what you’re saying is, “I see you.” Using empathetic statements, such as “I can see how frustrating this must be” or “I understand you’ve really put a lot of effort into this” acknowledges that you’re aware of the stress someone’s under, or the complexity of what they’re dealing with.

  1. Positive communication means keeping an open mind

Positive communication is both a mindset and a way to articulate

Being positive is about the energy you project. Openness allows you to acknowledge that there’s more than one way to achieve your goals. You’re open to other ideas. 


When you communicate, you focus on the positive aspects – what I can and will do. What IS possible. Even if you can’t do it today, you can say “yes” to doing it tomorrow. Or you can state the time it will take you. You can understand the priorities and find a solution that works for both of you.  

Taking this approach means that when someone makes a request, they feel like you’re enabling them instead of putting up roadblocks. Even though you’ve drawn a line, you’ve done it in a positive way.

By showing empathy and building trust, you lay a strong foundation for the relationships you’re building with your colleagues. There is return on relationships, and it’s determined by how you act.

Efrat Gazit
Senior Consultant and Trainer at Barry Katz

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