The Fundamental Principle Of How To Influence Without Authority
We live in an interconnected world and knowing how to influence
without authority is an increasingly important communictation skill.
There are many situations
at work or in your personal life
where you are not in charge, you
do not have formal authority, and yet you need to resolve things and get things
A major focus of this site is on thinking skills and this article is part of a series on the art of persuasion, communication and change.
material is grounded in my own business career over 45 years and in
this article I am going to share some important tips on how to influence
without authority, and it all starts with Newton's Third Law Of Motion:
"For every action there will ways be an equal and opposite reaction."
6 Key Tips On How To Influence Without Authority
(1) Assume everyone is a potential ally
"We are more united and have far more in common with each other, than things that which divides us."
These words were spoken by UK MP Jo Cox in her maiden speech to Parliament in 2015. One year later she was murdered and her words went viral.
I recall becoming very aware
of this when I first traveled to, lived and worked in various countries
in South East Asia.
I noticed very quickly that despite our ethnic, cultural
and other differences, at root we all want the same things. We value the
same things. We see things in the same way. We have more in common.
We all want to be
loved, to be respected, we all want the best for our children, we all
want to good health, at the most basic level we all want food, sex,
shelter and money.
The best mindset to cultivate is one that assumes that everyone is a potential ally.
The magic words "I wonder if you can help me?" can yield surprisingly good results.
I want to introduce the idea of primary and secondary currencies. Understanding this and how it works will give you a significant edge in how to influence without authority.
We all naturally tend to think in terms of the tangible results that we want to achieve. These are things that can be seen and meaured such as facts, figures and money. This is primary currency.
But there is another dimension that is often over-looked and that is those things that are subjective and have high value and importance to the other person such as skills, knowledge and intelligence/information, or qualities such as reputation, recognition, influence, intangibles such as space, freedom, peace of mind etc. This is secondary currency.
There can be a very interesting and profitable interplay between primary and
secondary currency and how one can be leveraged to greatly increase the
There is a deeper aspect to all this and that is understanding how to find hidden value [or margins] that can have a big impact on your and your potential allies lives.
I have written a comprehensive and practical article on this and I strongly recomend that you read this because it will considerably expand your understanding of how to influence without authority.
These tips on primary and secondary currencies can give you:
Leverage in your relationships with others.
Insight into finding hidden value.
Enhanced skills in how to influence without authority.
I am a businessman I automatically seek primary currency in all of
my interactions with other business people. In my area of business, which is the fuel sector, I build long-term relationships with key people.
of the ways I do this is by focusing on and meeting the personal needs
of my seller or my buyer. I do this in addition to focusing on their business
and organisational needs.
closely at how they are being impacted by the situation, and I try to
find out their secondary currency needs and requirements.
For example, are they looking for a someone they can really talk to, are they seeking respect, do they want to entertained, do they want to be educated and informed?
I always ask myself: "How can I help this person?"
Addressing people's secondary currency needs inevitably unlocks the primary currency that I seek. But it often this takes time.
I am always prepared to take the long view
and build up a large balance of secondary currency with the other
person or party. This means that when a suitable opportunity arises for them to
reciprocate, they are likely to do so on a far bigger scale than they might otherwise
There is an important business relationship I have with a major supplier, and over the past 2 years I have
undertaken research projects for him at at the expense of a lot of my time. anMore recently I have undertaken a major
marketing initiative for him - which was also time consuming.
And here's the key point, I did all this
knowing full well that what he asked me to do was very unlikely to
succeed, but he was committed to these activities and so I gained some major goodwill with this guy for having
There will come a point when I can call in these favours by asking for more favourable terms on a major fuel transaction. A few additional points on the discount structure could mean a large amount of additional money to me.
(3) Clarify what you want, when and why
is important to be very clear in your own mind about what you want from a potential ally.
[a] Separate organisational goals from personal goals.
There are different contexts in which you may be seeking to influence people and your approach needs to tailored accordingly.
There is a difference between organisational goals and personal goals.
The other person may respond positively and support our personal goals but be reluctant to suppport your organisational goals if they do not align with the other person's organisational objectives.
[b] Be clear about priorities and timescales
also need to be clear about your priorities and the order of your priorities,
Are you able to play the long game - or are you under pressure to achieve your goals quickly?
[c] Is your goal a one-off or a repeat?
Can you afford to risk burning a relationship to achieve an important one time goal?
Or are you looking for a longer term relationship with potential repeated involvement from your contact?
Your clarity about these points will shape your approach to engaging with the other person.
As I have outlined above, I am always seeking secondary currency opportunities that I can leverage into significant amounts of primary currency.
My specific goals are introductions to new potential high quality buyers or sellers, and to attract luctrative new business opportunities.
I am very clear and specific about my commercial objectives.
My timescales are usually long-term and strategic and I am prepared to play the long game.
A well earned reputation for knowing what you are talking about will open doors and attract support.
Even more importantly, is a reputation for trust and integrity coupled with a preparedness to share your knowledge and experience.
[b] How can I add value to this person or this situation?
One of the key questions to ask yourself is: "What does the other person or people really want and how can I help
them get it?"
Thinks carefully in terms of primary and secondary currencies.
[c] Mobilize your allies
In an organisational context you will benefit from the support of others with whom you have trust and credibility and who share your goals.
You will benefit from emotional, practical and political support.
[d] Drop your ego
An important, and sometimes difficult, lesson to learn in how to influence without authority is to give the other person the credit for the achievement of your goal.
It is the result that matters and allowing the other person to look good can be an important part of your success equation.
"High EQ and low ego" is an effective motto.
Each of the 4 points above and the 4 points below encapsulate my whole approach to influencing people over whom I have no authority.
Over time it has become a mindset to building a business.
(5) Understand the other person's situation
[a] What is affecting the other person?
is useful to understand - or attempt to understand - the influences, pressures and requirements of a potential ally.
you focus on this you can directly and indirectly ascertain a lot of
information about the other person's situation and especially about what is important to them.
[b] Where is the common ground and what is non-negotiable?
Finding the common ground will show where your interests are aligned, and you can build on this.
Understanding the non-negotiable areas enables you to demonstrate that you understand the other persons' constraints and boundaries and to steer away from possible confrontation.
[c] Listen hard and seek to understand
Listening is fundamental for all effective communication.
The essence of how to influence without authority is seeking to
understand and listening mindfully to really hear the other person’s needs.
You have to be continually seeking to up your game and keep asking yourself: "What do they see that I don’t see?”
[d] Only bring practical solutions
The other person most likely has enough of their own issues and problems to deal with, so bringing practical solutions to the
table that are aligned with your common goals will help build your credibility and move you closer to your objectives.
(6) Knowing when the time is right to trade
You have to earn the right to trade currency with the other person.
you have undertaken the analysis of the other person's situation and what is
important to them, identified trading currencies and
where necessary improved your relationship, then (and only then) are you in a
position to trade with the other person - when the time is right.
timing will dictated by their attraction and need for what you have to offer
balanced against your need for what they have to offer.
Experience The Power Of Acceptance. This website contains about 500,000 words. You could read every single word and it wouldn't make any real difference to you. You might become better informed, but t…
How To Avoid The Unwanted Outcome. The power of opposite thinking, also known as inversion, lies in its ability to stimulate creativity, enhance problem-solving, and provide a fresh perspective on cha…
We tend to see that which aligns with what we believe, and to act upon that rather than acting on reality. Being aligned with reality starts with a clear and accurate understanding of the world. It me…
A New Approach To A New Life At time of writing we are entering a new year which is traditionally a time of making resolutions to change our behaviour and improve the quality of our lives. And yet pow…
There are two ways to handle the world - try to predict, or try to prepare. "Clear Thinking" by Shane Parrish, published in Oct 2023, is a laudable testament to the art of cogent thinking, and will be…
Self Dialogue Is About Working With ALL Levels Of Your Mind. The key to effective self dialogue is to have tools, techniques and resources that work with all levels of your mind. This simple self-faci…
How To Experience The Benefits Of A Balanced Brain. Underpinning all of the belief systems and practices that offer routes to personal change, transformation and spiritual growth is the balanced brain…
To Understand The Truth We Have To See The Whole Picture. One of the best ways to make better decisions is to have a deeper understanding of the many things that might stop that happening. To understa…
Yet Most Will Never Know It Everyone of us has a place, in our hearts there's a space, that is home to the greatest love of all. This love transcends everything we think we know about the world of for…
How Not To Be Stupid. Who is in charge of your brain? This is not a silly questions. It matters because the outcomes that you experience in your life are determined by how you respond to the events th…
The Incredible Benefits Of Selective Attention. This is not a typical article about how to be a winner. We are not going to talk about goal setting, the importance of habits, the power of focus and al…
How To Achieve Your Biggest Objectives.
The metagame approach to life is all about winning and achieving your biggest objectives by:
- Understanding the bigger picture - Being better by doing things d…
Walking The Path Of Compassion. Shantideva the 8th century Indian Buddhist sage is famous for his treatise "The Way of the Bodhisattva" delivered as an extended teaching to the monks of Nalanda monast…
History is always about context, not imposing our own moral values on the past. For those of us fortunate enough to live within western democracies, we are living in an age where a vociferous and into…
Chaos, Disorder And Decay Is The Natural Order Of Things. Nobody has the perfect life. We all struggle and strive to attain health, wealth and personal happiness. Yet these three big areas: our health…
How To Tell The Difference Between Intuition and Anxiety. How do you know whether the voice of your intuition is real or just the product of your inner anxiety? Several months ago I was having a drink…
How the truth and nothing but the truth is often not the whole truth. My great aunty Flo broke her arm and died. It is true that she broke her arm in 1923. It is also true that she died in 1949. But t…
Duality and life beyond your thinking mind focuses on the limitations of time, foreground and background, duality and "stuckness". The first aspect of duality and life beyond your thinking mind focuse…
Being aware is the first stage of being prepared. The conscious mind is limited in so many ways. There are some who would argue that there is no such thing as conscious thought and that it is represen…
The big picture of how your inner map of reality creates your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. Your inner map of reality is based on the filters of your own ethnic, national, social, family and rel…
Why we need to wear our beliefs lightly and develop negative capability. Throughout history people have campaigned to fight beliefs, ideologies, and injustices that they perceived to be oppressive, di…
We Would Rather Die Than Change, And We Usually Do In my experience, the vast majority of people who say they want to change don’t change. Most people reading this won’t change because they don’t real…
Beyond the content of your mind you are so much more than you think you are. When we talk of "myself" this is the conventional way of referring to our self image which is in fact the ego's constructio…
How Your Lizard Brain Sabotages Your Happiness We are hardwired to measure our progress in any and all areas of life where we have goals and aspirations. We can't not do it. But what we measure and ho…
So What Exactly Does It Mean to Wake Up - What Is "Enlightenment"? There is nothing magical, mystical or mysterious about waking up we’re actually having glimpses of enlightenment all the time. Enligh…