Pull, Sway, Leverage, Clout, Mojo, Power: However You Say It  – It Means Influence

Few skills are as valuable as influence. Trying to get a promotion or a raise? You’ll need influence. Aiming to become a better leader and earn the trust of your team? Yep, you’ll need influence for that too. The concept even applies to your personal life — just ask any mom who’s ever successfully managed to get a fussy toddler out the door on schedule.

The Oxford dictionary defines influence as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.” Having influence is basically like having a superpower.  Oh, and it doesn’t mean having millions of followers on social media.

And if you think it’s a dirty word, think again. It’s all about how you direct that power. I like to say it’s like electricity or nuclear power and it can be used for good or ill.

I have to ask myself: What are my intentions? Are my intentions honorable when I’m attempting to influence a person? Am I intending to give them some benefit or added value? And the other measure is, what is the effect on the other person? Do they feel used or exploited? Or do they feel like they’ve been educated, or gotten some other benefit.

Ready to become a master influencer and reap the many career and life benefits of developing the sought-after skill of influence? Adopt the six habits below and learn how to get your way more often than not.

Become a better listener and observer

The best influencers are people who listen more than they talk,.What they’re doing is absorbing information about the other person. So, why is paying attention and gathering intel so important when it comes to building influence? Because it allows you to understand the larger context and dynamics of a situation, which is critical in terms of influencing it. The more you know about what someone might need or what they value, the better informed you’ll be to move your agenda forward.

Plus, you need to figure out who to influence in the first place.

Understand your influence style

There are people who are natural influencers and even if they’re good at it, they don’t specifically know what they do and how they do it.  In our Influence Styles Inventory ®, we have identified distinct influence styles. For example, some people are more analytical and tend to use facts to convince others, while others are visionaries who like to paint an ideal picture and focus on the emotional resonance of their message.

Understanding your influence style allows you to accomplish a few things: Intentionally direct and leverage your influence skills, identify areas of improvement so you can become an even more powerful influencer, as well as become more aware of the influence styles of others and use that information to your advantage.

Continuously gather insights

Excellence is about precision and intentionality. Think of it like being an athlete training for the Olympics. You’d practice for hours and work with your coach to know your strengths and weaknesses inside out. So when it comes to influence, adopt the approach of continuously gathering insights from your experiences and you’ll be unstoppable.

Let’s say you have gone through life and been successful. You might have thought it was an accident or just good luck. You may not be able to duplicate a success or fix a failure because you don’t know what the ingredients and building blocks of what you did were,

So don’t leave your moments of influence up to luck. Review what went well and what didn’t go so well, then step your game up. And learn from observing other influencers — they can be a great source of insights as well.

Balance out your weaknesses

Let’s say you understand where your influential strengths lie, and you are able to lean on them when you need them the most. Now what?  Now you’re going to stretch and learn the style that you’re not comfortable with so that you can have it on track when you need it.

And so you’re not functioning just intuitively but strategically.  You have a framework for success. You’re already good at what you do. You can maybe teach it to others or use it when it’s called for, but you’re maybe missing out on five of the other possibilities or methods.”

Adapt in real-time

The most influential people in the world can adapt in real-time to situations where influence-wielding will be required (which happens daily )

Imagine you are pitching a project or service and the people who you thought would attend the meeting are absent. Now you’re faced with an audience you don’t know and have not prepared for. You can quickly get information about them through an informal pre-presentation conversation, which also allows you to warm up the room, then adapt your pitch to speak their language and address their main concerns. This is what advanced influencing can look like in action.

Practice with intention

Practice makes perfect. And if the thought of influencing others makes you feel overwhelmed, don’t despair.  I think anyone can learn the skill. Start by flexing your influence muscles in low-stake situations or even outside of work.

These insights and ideas are all taught in our Live training Program – Secrets of Influence ®  Now, for the first time, we have converted that program to an online e-learning program, so that you can access these skills and learn at your own pace, privately. The program was designed in collaboration with a team of Educational Technology Experts,  using the latest platforms in adult learning, for maxium results.  To learn more about this program, contact us at [email protected] GET A FREE booklet about Influence


Elaina Zuker
Elaina Zuker
ELAINA is the president of Elaina Zuker Associates in Montréal, Canada. She has taught seminars to hundreds of employees and managers at major corporations such as AT&T, IBM, American Express, and MCI International, and is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and industry events. She is the author of six books, on leadership, management, and communication. Her best-selling book, “The Seven Secrets of Influence” (McGraw-Hill), the recent Main Selection for the Business Week Book Club, has been translated into four languages and its new, revised 2021 edition is now available on Amazon in paperback and as an e-book on Amazon Kindle. Her new book about Peer Mentoring YOUX2 has also just been launched on Amazon. Her internationally successful program “Secrets of Influence ™ is now available as an online learning program, either as a completely online self-study program or in a hybrid version. The program, created with the latest educational technology, can also be customized for an organization’s specific requirements. Ms. Zuker holds a B.A. in Psychology, an M.A. in Management/Organizational Development, and is the 2004 recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award from New York Polytechnic University. To engage Ms. Zuker as a speaker or consultant, to book a seminar for your company or organization, or to learn how to become a licensed Affiliate for Secrets of Influence, visit or contact us at [email protected]

DO YOU HAVE THE "WRITE" STUFF? If you’re ready to share your wisdom of experience, we’re ready to share it with our massive global audience – by giving you the opportunity to become a published Contributor on our award-winning Site with (your own byline). And who knows? – it may be your first step in discovering your “hidden Hemmingway”. LEARN MORE HERE