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Five Influence Principles to Win at Work

One of the most common questions I get from my clients is, how do you get buy-in, or how to influence in the workplace, when your positional authority (aka title) only gets you so far. Here is what I usually tell them: Be an influencer. Most of the time, after the first few seconds of blank stares, I often explain that influencing is not just for social media. If you want to win at work, it’s time to learn how to use influence principles to win the politics game at work.

Years ago, I came across Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion, first published in 1984. Unfortunately, not many people understand how to apply these principles to influence at work. When aiming for a promotion, a raise, or more responsibility, you can lean into some or all of these principles to get you there.

Here’s how:


If you’ve ever been to Costco and fell for buying a product that someone gave you a sample of, you’ve experienced the first principle of persuasion. There is an unwritten social contract that when someone gives us something, a gift, or a compliment, we should return the favor.

How to win at work with Reciprocity:

Think of this principle as “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” However the key here is to be genuine and thoughtful or at least try to be. If you are generous and genuine with your praise and favors, they are likely to be returned. Genuineness is important when applying reciprocity, you don’t want to risk your actions coming across as an act.


Many companies lean on the scarcity strategy, particularly high-end brands. The less product they have available, the more it’s worth, and the more their audience wants it.

How to win at work with Scarcity:

Consider yourself the product. We all have a limited amount of time in our day. Your limited availability creates a sense of scarcity with others. Make sure before you say yes to that calendar invite or that email request for time, that you pause, and be selective if you can.

Now, I know that you’re probably thinking “This is all crazy talk in this meeting-obsessed culture” However, I can guarantee that there is always a way to get out of some senseless meetings, and calendar blocking is one idea that works just fine.


Consumers trust an authority figure when buying products. This can include anything from official uniforms in specific work environments to advertisements that say, “Experts Agree…”.

How to Win at Work with Authority:

Become a SME (Subject Matter Expert). Forget any feelings of imposter syndrome and lean into what you know and the experience. We are all experts at something. Claim it!

Another strategy is to gain an endorsement from established experts within your org (aka potential advocates) to boost your credibility. You might want to seek to be placed on projects with such a person and deliver above and beyond expectations. Either way, be confident and assertive, and people will start seeing you as an expert.


Several studies have shown time and time again that when we like something or someone, endorphins are released and therefore we feel more inclined to either buy or make a concession. The best negotiators and marketing departments know this and they are not afraid of using it to their advantage and neither should you.

How to Win at Work with Likability:

If you read my prior blogs, you’ll know that I often say, “Promotion = performance + likeability”. Try to be intentional about how you are coming across. Don’t forget that a good “bedside manner” will get you a long way. I’m not advocating for you to bend over backward to be likable or fit a mold. However, as my mom likes to say, “ A good morning and thank you, do not cost anything, and they can cost you everything.”

Consensus (Social Proof)

More often than not, we’ll wait to see which way others lean before making up our minds. We want a social consensus to ensure that we aren’t the odd ones out. You will see this type of persuasion in commercials for things such as toothpaste or movies saying, “9 out of 10 critics agree…”. When the majority rules, the consumer wants to be with them.

How to Win at Work with Consensus:

Collaborate and utilize your network. To reach a consensus in meetings, make your voice heard while being respectful. To work on a promotion or increased responsibility, reach out to your network for recommendations and reviews. When 9 out of 10 coworkers agree you’re the best fit, you’ll reach your goal in no time.

Influence Principles for long-term career success

Winning at work often entails small yet important steps to set yourself apart. After building your likability, authority, consistency, demand, and developing a consensus, your leadership is bound to agree that you are due for that promotion. It takes time to build these habits and is a process I would be glad to assist you with. Contact me to get started!


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