How Do You Influence?

Two Men Talking

“The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.” —John Hancock

In the Working with Emotional Intelligence master’s course, we have discussed many different aspects of self-awareness, managing our own emotions, developing empathy for others and using listening skills that deepen empathy and understanding of others. These emotional intelligence competencies strengthen our interactions with selves and others since we function, learn and grow within the context of relationships.

In our everyday lives—both work and personal—we also have the opportunity and desire to influence others to make things happen. This can occur either consciously or unconsciously, and in so doing, we can achieve differing degrees of effectiveness and success.

What can we really do when it comes to influencing others? Will offering advice be effective? What about convincing the other person of your point of view and desired action? What if that advice, point of view and action aligns with your values and not the other person’s values? What if it does? And how can you find out?

This week, my students began by assessing two relationships in their life and their level of influence within those relationships. If you want to play along, here are the questions to ask:

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being very low and 5 being extremely high:

  1. What is the level of trust in our relationship? (For example, this person knows I have his or her best interests at heart; I earned this trust by modeling integrity and ethical behavior.)
  2. What level do I know and understand this person’s values and passion? (This could be about life in general or the situation that you wish to influence.)
  3. Does this person perceive I have understanding, knowledge and competency in the area I would offer influence? (The person knows to ask you for advice or that any advice coming from you is that of a mentor with a great deal of competency in the subject area.)

After identifying these aspects of your levels of influence within the relationship, explore ways you can strengthen your foundations to build effective and positive influence. What actions can you take to move the scale closer to 5? Observe what comes naturally for you and what areas you consciously need to change.

Remember the importance of sincerity and how we are hard-wired to be in relationship. Our brains can filter out “schmoozing” and insincerity that may be used to manipulate instead of influence.

What have you discovered? Please let us know by commenting below.

“Leadership is influence.” —John C. Maxwell


  1. Good article to help us be more reflective before we speak out or write to a friend. I feel at ease with one of my son’s being this open and honest, and I am ok that he sometimes has no use for my advice, and is unafraid to tell me so. A relatively new caregiver is one I trust highly and can be open with, as we do share many core values re. health, communication, importance of getting clear with expectations. She is younger than my adult daughters, but since we often see each other face to face, it is easier to confide and share with her. We have a deeper relationship than I have with siblings, who live far away, and we talk rarely. This would be worthwhile tips to try to build a closer relationship as long as the other party wants this as well!

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