Become an influential communicator in 3 easy steps
In 1936, Dale Carnegie wrote one of the best-selling business books of all time: ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’.
As a runaway success, the book sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, opening our eyes to the power — and benefits — of influence in the workplace.
Aside from helping us be noticed, get promoted, and secure pay rises; having influence in the workplace also increases productivity.
The good news is that 'being influential' isn’t only reserved for people who hold senior titles within an organisation. Anyone can learn how to build influence at work — and reap the benefits — in just three easy steps.
Gary Edwards, former courtroom lawyer and negotiation expert, helps people leverage communication as a tool for influence in the workplace.
As a recent guest on Levelling up: Your leadership podcast, Gary shared three steps you can take to help you master the conversations you have with your colleagues, clients and customers, to achieve the outcome you want.
These are the top takeaways from his episode.
Laying the foundations for influential communication
Whether you want to double sales, revise your organisational structure or launch a new product or service, Gary says achieving your desired business outcome comes down to three things: vision and execution and culture.
"We have to be able to paint a vision of the future that is going to influence people to think 'I'd like to go there'," Gary said.
"But we’re not only trying to paint the vision, we’re trying to help people see that the execution…is something that’s possible.
"If we’re able to do that well, then we’ve influenced them. We are then able to take them on that journey," he said.
The third essential ingredient for building influence in the workplace is culture, which focuses on the relationships we form with people.
"When we try to build culture, we’re doing that as a way of influencing people.
"If we have a great culture in a workplace, then they are more likely to go along with what we’re asking them to do."
Influential communication: a 3-step process
Once you’ve established a clear vision, path for execution and positive workplace culture; then you can communicate your desired outcomes to your colleagues, clients and customers by following a three-step process.
Step one focuses on communicating your vision clearly.
"Our ability to create a clear vision really helps when we’re trying to be influential with people," he said.
"We have to be clear about [our vision] in our own mind, so that we can hopefully be clear in their mind."
Gary suggests using the '4mat' communication framework to do this, which asks the following four questions:
1. What are you suggesting we do?
2. Why is it important right now?
3. How do we do it?
4. What happens if we do it?
"There’s also a fifth question, which is 'what next?'," he said.
"So, if this is the plan, what is the next step…what needs to happen today, tomorrow or next week.
"If you are able to give them a very clear picture of where to go, or what you’re going to do, then they’ll think, 'how do I feel about that?'"
At this point, Gary suggests moving onto step two, which involves asking questions to understand and address your audience’s concerns.
"We need to ask really good questions of other people to try and understand and uncover their concerns so that we can then address those concerns," he said.
"What are the barriers that are likely to stop them moving forward – either tangible, or intangible."
Step three is figuring out how to overcome these barriers, so that your audience feels capable, and safe in moving forward – and you can achieve your desired outcome.
"In order to do that, the key is really helping them to take some little steps….and if they take a small step and they feel ok about that, then they’re more likely to take another one, and then another one."
Want to increase your influence in the workplace? To help you speak with more confidence, clarity and effectiveness, listen to Gary’s bite-sized Levelling up: Your leadership podcast episode, filled with practical tips.