How to influence 

 By Dr Paula Smith | Global Institute of Training and Presenting 

(article on website - click here)

I have noticed a huge increase this year with clients asking for sessions on Influential Communication.  With so much unwelcomed noise, uncertainty and strong opinions from interesting sources, both business owners and executives are finding it increasingly difficult to get their message across and influence those around them. 

According to Cindy Dietrich (2010) there are several factors that influence decision making: past experiences, a variety of cognitive biases, an escalation of commitment and sunk outcomes, individual differences, and a belief in personal relevance.

Therefore, influential communication is an imperfect science, there are still many invisible factors that we are sometimes unaware of when trying to influence others. However, we now know more about how our brain makes decisions and more effective ways to use language when trying to influence those around us. And what is even more interesting is the way we are being influenced is also changing. 

I thought I would share a few things to consider next time you are trying to influence those around you to help you get what you want while still maintaining your relationships along the way.

I will break it down into 3 sections:

1.       Intention
2.       Language
3.       Choice


Before trying to influence anyone, you need to build trust and connection.  If you want to build trust and connection start with communicating your intent.  When others know you have the right intention to help, support or guide them, it is much easier to influence them.

Start by listening deeply. 

Apart from communicating your intent other factors include integrity and consistency. Leaders who fail to demonstrate these things will struggle to thrive as a leader.   


Stop telling and start sharing. Nobody wants to be told what to do but when you share your experience, it can be viewed as a gift of passing down wisdom.

Adjust your language to use more of share and not tell, you and not I, and because to emphasise the why.

Researcher Gregory Ciotti suggests that the most powerful words in the English language are: You, Because, Free, Instantly and New. Other words from a range of studies include easy, guaranteed, proven, results.  Do you see any patterns?  Words to help us make sense of a request and words that make us feel safe help to influence us when making a decision.

And another tip when trying to influence others – stop talking!

The human brain can hold on to around four things at any one time, so if you keep talking for several minutes trying to influence or argue your point, you are wasting your time, the person will only be able to process and remember a very small part of it. So, keep to one point at a time and check in to ensure understanding. 


We do like to have choice, in fact in these times it is not something that we value but something that we have come to expect.

You want your teenager to empty the dishwasher?  Rather than telling them to empty the dishwasher. Try: would you like to empty the dishwasher before or after your show?

Having choices makes us feel more in control and powerful. Give someone choice but be aware excessive choices can actually have a negative effect as it can be cognitively exhausting leading to confusion and/or decision fatigue.

Bonus tip:  Vision trumps all other senses so make your pitch or attempt to influence come alive with pictures, real items and even words written down in front of them will help people to see your ideas.   

There are so many more things I could talk about when it comes to influential communication, but brevity is also key if I want to influence you to give it a try.

Let me know how you get on.

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