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NextGen Magazine


Communication Expert Suggests Three Ways to Become Influential at Work

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Mar 6, 2024

There are three emotional intelligence techniques that an employee can use to convince co-workers to listen to and support his or her ideas, a Stanford University communication expert told Make It.

These techniques can help to show peers and bosses that a worker has strong ideas, can form meaningful connections across the workplace, can improve job-related skills and can possibly earn a promotion, said Matt Abrahams, a lecturer of organizational behavior at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

“Careers are very different now ... ; things are more remote and virtual, so you’re not around people as much,” which can be difficult for entry- and mid-level Gen Z and millennial employees, said Abrahams. “You really are forging your own way and need to get others to at least support, if not follow, the things you’re trying to do.”

His three recommendations can be applied to in-office or remote roles.

The first is to figure out how to be helpful. After observing the office dynamics, an employee should find a way to get noticed within that structure, he said. “If there are certain tasks people don’t like to do, stepping up to that can give you some access.”

Volunteering to take notes during meetings is one example of being helpful. It encourages the other people in the room to direct their attention to the employee, he said. Other examples include getting involved with planning office events, starting a Google document that helps keep one's team organized, or helping with the company’s social media.

“All of a sudden the role you have—a mundane role that many people don’t like—gives you access and influence,” said Abrahams.

His second recommendation is to find allies. He advises an employee to form relationships with people that the employee does not ordinarily work with. While taking minutes, that person can listen to how a group brainstorms, selects and executes on new ideas. The next step would be to identify people who think similarly or who can help the employee understand the office’s dynamics and inner workings.

“Check in with people and really listen when people say things to you,” he said. “I’m not saying be manipulative. Buy [and respond] to the things you care about. Those are the things that, I think, can make a difference.”

His third recommendation is to "support each other’s ideas."  An employee can do this by “aligning” with others to work together toward common goals. The next step is to “amplify” by supporting each other’s ideas vocally. An  employee can also make original ideas more influential by noting how colleagues have helped to shape it.

By consistently crediting their teammates, employees can get people to listen to them, and can make other co-workers more likely to ask for their input or include them on projects, he said. “There’s nothing more powerful.”