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How to influence others more effectively

Leadership is about influencing. Unfortunately, most leaders are not good at it. Based on my observation of successful leaders and my personal approach, here are eight tips on effective influencing skills for one-on-one interaction:

1. Know your mission.
2. Know your style.
3. Know your values.
4. Understand others' styles.
5. Understand others' values.
6. Interact.
7. Practise self-reflection.
8. Modify.

Let's look at each one in more detail.

1. Know your mission: What do you want to be in the future? If your mission is greater than yourself, you have a motivation to influence others. If you sum up your mission by saying something like "I am happy and I don't want to change anything around me", it will be very difficult for you to put the extra effort into influencing others. That's because influencing is hard work; you have to learn more about yourself and others alike.

2. Know your style: Assess yourself: How assertive are you? How much will you persist to push your agenda forward? When others disagree with you, how do you react?

3. Know your values: What do you value the most? What are your principles? What do you stand for? How do you judge yourself? How do you judge others? Knowing your values will help you to better understand why you may feel uncomfortable when attempting to influence others. For example, if you value compromise, you will always end up with compromises whenever you influence others, even when compromise might not have been the goal.

4. Understand others' styles: Each of us has a unique style when we seek to influence others. Most of us assume that the other party has the same style and values as we do. That's a dangerous assumption. We have to observe other people first. Most attempts at influencing others take place in the workplace, where we have the benefit of knowing the people we are interacting with. What is the style of the other person?

5. Understand others' values: Observe the stories that others tell us about themselves. Our childhood experiences shape our values and beliefs; what are the patterns of their stories? Role models and books are other sources of values. Who are their role models? Who are their heroes in the family, school, workplace, historical figures? What books do they refer to?

6. Interact: Once you know all of the above, you can interact by tailoring your approach for each individual and to the situation at hand. Don't assume that each person has only one approach for influencing. As George Bernard Shaw once said: "The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me."

7. Practise self-reflection: Even if you are well prepared, as we've outlined above, you might not succeed at first. But don't worry: when it comes to influencing, the goal is to do it better every time. Influencing people is a journey, not a destination.

8. Modify. Every time you reflect, you will learn something new. When you want to improve on anything, do it one step at a time. Look for a pattern in what you want to do differently and practise it for a while. Then, move on to the new pattern.

For those who are interested in learning more about influencing skills, I recommend two books: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and Influence Without Authority by Allan Cohen and David Bradford.

Kriengsak Niratpattanasai provides executive coaching in leadership and diversity management under the brand TheCoach. He can be reached at Daily inspirational quotations can be found on his Facebook fan page: Previous articles are archived at