6 Techniques to Influence and Persuade Stakeholders at Work

Are You Under The Influence?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could easily gain the willing cooperation and buy-in of others? We approach them because we need a favour, or some form of action on their part, and they agree to comply happily under our influence, instead of resisting or claiming they’re too busy.

If done correctly, people don’t mind being influenced, mainly because they don’t know it just happened. However, if you try too hard, your influencing endeavours will become obvious, and people might feel manipulated, which will not be well received!

To improve your influencing skills, let’s consider the work of Robert Cialdini, who identified 6 principles of influence:


If you do something for someone, they will feel better about doing something for you in return. The key is to be the first to give and make sure that what you give them is personalised and unexpected.

For example, if you get a tea or coffee for someone, then when they go to get their own, it’s highly likely they will repeat the good deed and get one for you. It’s the classic ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ concept!


People are more interested in things that are difficult to obtain or might run out. Anything that’s in short supply will be highly prized. If you possess and can control a resource that nobody else has, then your ability to influence will be greatly enhanced.

You might be a specialist in your job, which means you have unique skills and knowledge, and people will come to you in need of your expertise. Or you’re the Head of Finance and you control the company’s bank account, so you decide which projects receive funding or not. Advertisers use this principle: these prices must end on Sunday at 4pm! Get here while stocks last!


This principle works on the basis that people will follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts. You’re more likely to believe what your doctor, dentist or accountant is telling you because they display their diplomas and other prestigious-looking certificates in their offices. When a police officer in uniform tells you to do something, you obey.

It’s important to establish with others what makes you a credible and knowledgeable expert before attempting to influence, for example ‘I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and in my experience…’

Commitment & consistency

People respond favourably to those who are consistent in their message and committed to what they believe in. If you remain consistent, the response you get is likely to be consistent also. If you believe in something, then so can they, which makes them easier to influence.


People prefer to say yes to those that they like. If you can build a good relationship with someone, it will be much easier to get them round to your way of thinking. There are 3 important factors to bear in mind: we like people who are similar to us, we like people who pay us compliments, and we like people who cooperate with us towards achieving mutual goals.


This principle (also known as social proof) works on the basis that people will look to the actions and behaviours of others to determine their own. If you can show someone that what you’re asking them to do has already been done many times by many others, then it makes it feel safe and they will feel more comfortable complying,.

For example, ‘You weren’t at the meeting, but when I explained my idea everyone thought it was brilliant and they all agreed’.


We all rely on others for help and assistance, so wouldn’t it be great if we could get people willingly on board, whilst maintaining good relationships? This is where your influencing skills come into play. Cialdini identified 6 principles; you probably already use some of them and the others are at your disposal too. Happy influencing!