7 tips to influence without authority

“You cannot demand respect, you have to command it!” my basketball coach told me, the day I became Captain of my team. The experience taught me a lot about human nature. I realized, that while firmness was definitely a part of leadership, so was being sensitive towards other people’s feelings. I also learnt that being in a position of authority gives you a certain amount of influence over others, but it is actually best to exert influence without authority. My biggest take away however was, understanding that, only when people like, respect and trust you, will they willingly do as you tell them to. Given below are some ground breaking tips that can help you influence others without using any authority.

1. Win people over by showing an interest in them

Dale Carnegie – renowned writer, speaker and trainer, on self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills; in his bestselling book – ‘How to win Friends and Influence People,’ talks about using authority without influence. In this context, he points out that, approaching others from their perspective rather than your own is vital. “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you,” he says, adding: “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.”

2. Convince them that it is in their Interest

According to Carnegie, the secret of using influence without authority lies in convincing the other person, that, what you are asking him/her to do is actually in his/her interest. “Arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way,” he declares.

3. Connect with people emotionally

Smiling and being friendly, are actually the best ways to forge a friendship with anyone across the globe. The question then is, are these enough to influence people without using authority?  No, believes Carnegie, unless both are offered genuinely!

4. Make others feel important

It is necessary, to genuinely respect people and acknowledge the important role they play or will play, in whatever it is you need to get done. Making people feel important without being manipulative, is a fantastic way of using influence without authority. A genuine request for help, using people’s names while speaking to them, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ and offering genuine appreciation in public or private, goes a long way, here. “If some people are so hungry for a feeling of importance that they actually go insane to get it, imagine what miracle you and I can achieve by giving people honest appreciation this side of insanity,” Carnegie shares in his book.

5. Stay away from arguments

“Be wiser than other people if you can; but do not tell them so,” says Carnegie. He offers a few other interesting suggestions on tact and diplomacy, for those wanting to use influence without authority. His earnest advice is – avoid arguments at all costs! 

6. Refrain from criticism

Words are powerful but when used to criticize, they actually become dangerous and may have a demoralizing impact or even create resentment. “One of the biggest difficulties people have in relinquishing their critical views is that … Instead of seeking solutions to problems by opening themselves to ideas, many people turn others into the “problem” …,” opines Maria on hsphealth.com. While criticism is useful when it is constructive, a lot of tact is needed, if influence needs to be used without authority. Experts believe that, it is always better to offer criticism in the form of suggestions rather than, judgement.

7. Tell People Why

With corporate environments today, functioning more on the principles of individual rights and dignity, it is no longer considered okay, to simply order juniors around. As business consultant, Jesse Lyn Stoner states, “It doesn’t work to say, “Do it because I told you so.” The need of the hour is, to share more information with team members about why a job needs to be done and if necessary, also why the company is insisting on it, being done in a certain way!

This article was written by Hugh Swift a corporate trainer and motivational speaker, who believes in the benefits of using influence without authority.