3 things you should know about influencing skills

You don't have to be pushy and assertive to influence people

1 Careful listening
Influential people are rarely those who shout the loudest and bully their colleagues. Appreciate that, sometimes, others simply want to have a ‘voice’, and that inviting comments from those who oppose your views keeps the peace, and can even illuminate your own thinking. Frame questions in ways that encourage people to draw conclusions for themselves. Consensus is unlikely if opinions are mocked or ignored – remember, most decisions need enthusiastic support if they are to work. 

2 Studious observation
Encouraging vigorous debate allows you to watch how others behave and interact; you can evaluate the relationships being played out and judge which colleagues are on your side (and which are lost causes). Let the conversation flow – this gives you time to prioritise and devise your negotiating strategy. Write down any significant and reasonable arguments expressed, for and against the outcome you desire. Weigh these up with an open mind – this is more important than scoring points. 

3 Subtle assertion
In discussions, smile, maintain eye contact, and use people’s names. Agreeing with those who share your views can be more advantageous than obviously trying to lead the way. Volunteer to take minutes – an understated technique for guiding people to a common accord. Conclude discussion before fatigue sets in, and deliver on all your follow-up commitments (not everyone else will). Indeed, failure to do so represents a wasted opportunity to shape actions to your liking.

"Frame questions in ways that encourage people to draw conclusions for themselves"