How To Build Your Influence at Work

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 29, 2022 | Published October 7, 2019

Updated March 29, 2022

Published October 7, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The connections you form in the workplace are crucial to building a productive environment and professional network. Your coworkers can become friends who make work more enjoyable and can endorse you for future roles.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to cultivate strong relationships and have a positive influence on others.

What it means to influence people at work

Making friends is about putting in the effort to build strong relationships. There are a few effective ways to begin nurturing meaningful relationships with others at work, including:

  • Showing genuine interest in others and their work

  • Being generous with positive feedback, encouragement and support

  • Being clear with others with consistent, honest communication

  • Being intentional about spending quality time and conversation with others

Investing time and effort into lasting professional relationships can benefit you both in your current workplace and your broader career. 

The better your relationship with your colleagues, the better you are likely to work together. Being friends with your colleagues often makes teamwork easier, which may improve your productivity. It can also improve the quality of your work, which can result in a stronger portfolio, resume or employer review.

Related: Become a Networking Expert in 7 Steps

Gaining influence at work by investing in relationships

This may require some self-reflection and self-improvement since many strategies require analyzing your actions and reactions, as well as being more considerate of others. Here are some methods to help you improve your relationships with your colleagues and supervisors.

1. Be humble and acknowledge your mistakes

Acknowledging mistakes in the workplace takes humility, which can improve how colleagues and superiors perceive you. This strategy can also preserve your productivity as you move forward. 

When you make a mistake, be quick to take responsibility. For example, if you forgot the deadline for your team’s report, apologize to your supervisor and your teammates, and submit that report as soon as possible. Acknowledging your shortcomings can ease the tension that often follows mistakes and can display to your coworkers and employer that you are humble and willing to improve.

Related: Integrity: Definition and Examples

2. Make arguments productive

One of the best ways to explore many potential solutions to a shared problem is respectful discussions. When conflict or disagreement arises in the workplace, be open to synthesizing ideas from multiple perspectives rather than aiming for one idea to be victorious over others.

If you find yourself disagreeing with a coworker or supervisor, do what you can to establish commonalities between you and your colleague. While your opinions may differ on how to reach that destination, determining your shared values or understanding that both of you are trying to solve the same problem is a good starting point.

Focus your opinions and contributions on working together to achieve the team or company goals to ensure that you are doing your part to keep the conversation productive.

Related: Conflict Resolution Skills: Definition and Examples

3. Praise colleagues

Frequently praising your colleagues’ accomplishments and successes both inside and outside of the workplace can show your coworkers that you care. Helpful, constructive feedback is important in the workplace, but aims to be positive more often than critical. 

When criticism is necessary, explain to your colleague why that criticism is warranted. This strategy can help you to view your coworkers not as competitors but as teammates whose success is your success. Ensure that your praise feels sincere by frequently offering praise alone rather than using it as a buffer against the criticism you later offer (what is known sometimes as a “compliment sandwich”). 

In addition to commending major accomplishments, you can also appreciate the smaller things that your coworkers do or thank others who positively impact your workplace. For instance, you could thank whoever started the coffee pot that morning or tell the building maintenance staff that you appreciate all they do to make your workspace clean and efficient. 

Praising those around you can bring more positivity to your perspective and improve how others perceive you.

Related: The Importance of Positive Feedback and How to Deliver It to Others

4. Get to know your coworkers

If you are genuinely interested in your colleagues’ lives, you can quickly develop friendships that can both improve collaboration in the workplace and help you remain connected if your career paths take you in different directions. 

There are many opportunities during the workday to get to know those around you. You can remain professional while getting to know your teammates on a personal level. For example, you can ask your teammate about their family, hobbies and career aspirations.

With this personal information, you can further show your interest by remembering and following-up on what you’ve learned. Your thoughtfulness can help you more personally connect to your coworkers and strengthen those relationships in and out of the workplace.

Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples

5. Prioritize team building

Engaging in team building activities, both in and out of the workplace, can build a positive work environment and strengthen relationships. Consider coordinating an outing during a workday that involves problem-solving and teamwork exercises. You can also use short icebreaker activities at the beginning or end of weekly meetings to help your team build stronger relationships.

For events outside of work, invite a few colleagues over for a game night, out to lunch or happy hour after work. Spending this time with your teammates can help you get to know them on a more personal level that can lead to better collaboration in the workplace.

As you progress in your career, focus on improving your personal relationships with your coworkers to build a more positive work environment and foster connections that can improve both your quality of life and your professional network.

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