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How to Influence Others at Work

Exerting influence at work is a crucial component to a successful and satisfying career. Though it sounds manipulative (and can certainly be used that way), influence is best used not only to benefit yourself, but the company as well. Here’s how to do it effectively:

  • Identify your goal. Before you attempt to influence someone, make sure you’re clear on your goal. For example, determine a deadline by which you need your colleague’s report, rather than just knowing that you need it sometime in the near future.
  • Time it right. If your goal is to be assigned to the new ad campaign, don’t approach your boss about it as she’s running off to a meeting. Talk with her when she’s least stressed—maybe after lunch or right before she leaves for the night. Or time the discussion to coincide with your completion of an important project, so your successes are front and center in her mind.

Brainstorm talking points. Anticipate any “buts” you’ll receive and come up with solutions. Perhaps your colleague will say he’s too busy to complete the report by noon; offer to help him on another project so he can concentrate on the report you need. Your boss could have doubts that you’re experienced enough to manage a campaign; come prepared with a system of checks and balances to ensure she’s in the loop throughout the project.

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