All Articles Leadership Inspiration Are you able to influence people? 

Are you able to influence people? 

You can more effectively influence people by getting to know their interests, addressing them and asking for their support, writes Paul B. Thornton.

3 min read


influence people

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You don’t always have formal authority or positional power to compel people to do what you want done. In those situations, you have to influence people to embrace and support your ideas.     

Having influence starts with you.

Learn what it takes to make a positive first impression and establish a reputation that gives you credibility, respect and trust. If you lack any of these traits, the likelihood of you influencing others decreases.   

Imagine the person you are trying to influence as being inside the circle.

Your first job is to get inside the circle with them. Find out what’s going on in their world.  

  • What they are thinking. What are their goals and priorities? What’s working well for them? What are their problems and frustrations?
  • What are they feeling? What is their strongest positive emotion? Are they upbeat, confident, excited, etc.? What is their biggest frustration and fear? 

The more you know about the people you’re trying to influence, the better able you are to connect with them and address their situation.  

Craft your message so it appeals to their goals and needs.

Help people understand how your ideas will specifically help them.  Appeal to people’s heads, hearts and hands.

  • The Head — Appeal to their intellect. Present the hard-hitting facts and indisputable logic.   
  • The Heart — Appeal to their emotions. Connect to people’s feelings for status, order, security, friendship and purpose.   
  • The Hands Persuade people through experience. If possible, give people an opportunity to try out your idea. Take the car for a test drive. Or visit a company to see your idea in operation.  

Help people reach their own conclusions.

Ask questions such as:

  • What do these facts mean to you?
  • How do you feel about…?
  • What impact did this experience have on you?

Fred Kelly, a veteran sales leader in the medical field said, “Customers need to convince themselves their making the correct decision.” The same principle applies to employees. They need to decide your idea is a winner and will improve the situation.    

Plant seeds.

In some cases, you will not convince people on your first attempt. So, begin by “planting seeds.” Ask people to consider how your ideas could benefit them. Find out what concerns people have with what you’re proposing. What changes are needed to gain their support?

Ask for the sale.

Every sales person knows the importance of this cardinal rule. No sale is made until the buyer says “yes.” Close the deal by asking for your colleagues’ commitment. Will you support my proposal in today’s meeting? Will you sponsor my project?

Move on.

Don’t keep selling once the person says, “yes.” Thank them and review next steps. “Great, I’m glad you agree. Here is the next step to make this happen.” 

If you can’t influence others, you can’t lead!  Always put yourself in the shoes of the people you are trying to influence. Understand their world so you can convince them how your ideas will help them succeed.     


Paul B. Thornton is an author and speaker. His books are available at Amazon and include: 

He frequently posts his views and opinions about leadership on LinkedIn.   

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.


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