4 Simple Ways To Win Friends And Influence People At Work

By Aaron Sugarman

People often ask how they can be more effective and make a bigger impact at work. Sometimes, it seems like they’re hoping for a secret sauce that will give them awesome superpowers. Truth is, there are totally straightforward things that anyone can do, at any time, to make a difference in their professional (and other) relationships.

Get Your Audience’s Attention

In order to negotiate actions in an organization, you need to have a Speaker (that’s you) AND at least one Listener. Well, of course! But do you really make sure you have a committed Listener before you launch into your requests or offers? Or are you content to make what I call a drive-by request, while the other person checks their phone, responds to email, or juggles three calls? Sometimes, we try to shoehorn our request in while the other person is actively focused on their own agenda.

We all spend much of the day on auto-pilot. But if you want to have impact, the first step is to make sure your audience is “alive & awake” and ready to hear what you have to say.

Establish The Why

Here’s a simple truth: People do what they are motivated to do. When they don’t understand why you want them to do something, they are likely to experience fear, uncertainty and/or doubt. When considering making a request or an offer, which are the building blocks of coordinated action, ask yourself, “For the sake of what?” If you don’t know the answer, or worse yet, it’s something like,“To prove I can bend them to my will!” or, “If they don’t do it, I’ll have to,” you’re going to have a hard time motivating anyone. 

The ultimate goal here is to help your Listener understand the need of the objective well enough to articulate their own reasons for doing something. When people have their own reasons, rather than yours, they will care and commit more deeply to the task at hand.

Show, Don’t Tell

Lecturing and talking at people bores them. Even worse, it can threaten their perception of status, a very powerful social threat that effectively shuts down clear, logical thinking and triggers a Get away! response. And that’s not going to help you achieve your ambitious goals, is it? The infinitely more impactful approach is to demonstrate a desired behaviour. This is because we humans are intensely social beings with a strong instinct to blend with the people around us by echoing their behaviour. This is why we tend to smile when people smile at us, and show up on time for things in an environment where everyone else does. This is where the power of leading by example comes from.

And let’s be clear: Authenticity matters. As the negative tinge around phrases like “just going through the motions” and “putting on a show” suggest, people are pretty savvy at reading social cues, whether at the conscious or unconscious level. 

Appeal To Their Emotions

Motivation is not something you do to someone else – it’s something people do for themselves. And emotions are just that, the predisposition to do, or not do, something. If the emotion at hand is resignation – the bane of modern organization life – people are not likely to volunteer to take on some ambitious new project. Conversely, it’s why it’s easy to get things done in a context filled with emotions such as appreciation, caring, integrity, respect and trust.

The secret to making this shift goes back to the Why – connecting to a cause or outcome that’s larger than yourself and your own self-interest, which is where people find motivation to lead by example and generate positive emotions that motivate them. We call these sorts of people… Leaders.

AS_headshotAaron Sugarman is a Newfield Certified Coach and has garnered numerous awards for his creative work online (Webbys), in film (Key Art), print (National Magazine Awards) and advertising/marketing (Cannes Lions).

He works with individuals and teams across North America who are committed to excellence and willing to make strong promises to achieve their goals.




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