KELOWNA, B.C. — Influence is one of those words that can bring up both good and bad connotations.
Being influential for positive change is a compliment; influence peddling can be self-serving, even a crime.
“I’m talking about principled influence here today,” said human resources expert Nicky Fried during a stop in Kelowna, B.C.
“Using your influence to shape someone’s decision or get them to change their mind comes with responsibility. You have to justify why you want it that way and gain the trust of the other person.” To trot out a cliche, it has to be a win-win situation.
“Using your influence to get a decision or situation that benefits only you is selfish and being a bully,” said Fried, who led the Building Influence Skills workshop for the Interior branch of the B.C. Human Resources Management Association.
“Your influence should be used to solve problems and facilitate solutions.” Since influence is your power to persuade people, it’s defined as a skill at work, just as leadership, time management and spreadsheets are.
“It’s a worthwhile skill to understand and have,” said Fried, who has her own Vancouver consulting firm.
“In fact, it’s absolutely critical.”
Using your influence is as simple as approaching a co-worker or boss and suggesting ways of making things better or implementing positive change.
“Really it depends on your work culture how you approach it,” said Fried.
“But generally workplaces are much less military-style you-do-this-because-the-company-says-so nowadays. Now workplaces see influence used sideways, up and down.
“Workers can influence their boss and vice versa, and co-workers can influence each other.”