Practice Development Counsel

Phyllis weiss haserot
Phyllis weiss haserot

President & Founder

212 593-1549

Articles: Influence, Relationship & Human Performance Skills Archives

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7 Ways to Exert Your Personal Power


I have often presented on “building your influence quotient (IQ)” and the use of the 6 principles of persuasion popularized by Prof. Robert Cialdini in his book “Influence: Science and Practice” (Allyn & Bacon, 2001). Those principles are: scarcity, social proof, authority, reciprocity, commitment, and empathy or liking. Here is another list of ways to exert influence or authority across the generations. Most of these techniques don’t depend on seniority.

  • Motivating reciprocity (one of the 6 Principles of Persuasion), making others feel obligated to do one for you if you do a favor for them first. Some call this the “favor bank mentality.” It is one of the most common forms of influence and is the basis of effective networking.
  • Building alliances – exchanging support or resources between peers, mentors and mentees or other combinations of people with potential common interests, a technique used by organizational power brokers. Alliance building is more important than ever given complex issues and diverse constituencies.
  • Possessing the ability to control resources, whether tangible or intangible, such as access to people or information. People often underestimate the power executive assistants can have, for example.
  • Being able to steer the outcome of a decision, even without the power to make the decision. Some examples: knowing how to order, emphasize or withhold information while making a presentation or placing a controversial issue at the end of an agenda, reducing the likelihood it will be taken up or addressed attentively.
  • Benefiting from “confirmation bias,” one’s tendency to interpret actions or develop expectations in light of initial impressions. This phenomenon emphasizes the importance of first impressions to jump-start a power-base.
  • Having developed a reputation for power or influence through past actions and achievements. This reputation is usually built over time, but could be catapulted by a dramatic accomplishment that receives considerable attention.
  • Having a personality/personal style that harmonizes well with the culture and/or unwritten rules of the organization. Conversely, it is difficult to be influential with a style that goes against the style or culture of the organization – unless there is widespread resistance to acceptance of that established style and you can tap into the discontent.

Savvy, perceptive people in politically-charged work settings know instinctively or learn to pick up on ways to acquire, apply and counter informal influencers. Influence and power can be exerted for the good of the whole or can be used manipulatively for individual gain.


© Phyllis Weiss Haserot, 2004.