Getting people to act when it isn’t their core role

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26 April 2017
Written by Speak First Linked-in icon

One of the most important ways we achieve what we want in life is by the impact and influence we have on others.

Influencing skills are particularly important where you have no authority. Your own success will sometimes be reliant on them delivering that information on time, or completing their slides for a presentation you’re going to deliver. How many times have you found yourself working in an evening to get things done because a colleague hadn’t prioritised something outside of their normal role?

The good news is that you’ve been influencing people every day of your life so far – so you already have techniques that work. But they don’t work in every situation or with everyone. We have a handful that we use over and again – and sometimes they’re not as effective as we’d like them to be.

What if you already had a collection of techniques to get your colleagues to act and deliver when it’s not their core role? Well here are just a few to get you started.

1. Ask for it earlier than you really need it

“I need some information from you today by 4pm”. When they push back… I guess I could give you until 10am tomorrow.”

2. Start with the reason and then request

Most of us like to think we’re rational in the way we make decisions – even though there’s a strong emotional component, and decisions are actually made by the unconscious mind, but we also need reasons that convince the conscious mind for us to be fully committed. “The sponsor has asked me to submit an urgent report to them – and I need some data from you to be able to complete it.”

3. Create a sense of urgency and be specific

Avoid saying ASAP (as soon as possible) or ‘when you get a minute’. Specific times (4.30pm) are more influential than ‘close of play’. Nail it down.

4. Be confident and assertive – use ‘Power Talk’

Many people use non-assertive ‘wimp’ talk without realising it. They ask ‘Is there any chance you could help me?’ or say ‘I think this is the right course of action’. Using ‘power’ talk instead – ‘I need some information from you for the project’ or ‘This is the right course of action’ is considerably more powerful and conveys confidence and conviction. Simply making this one change can increase considerably the influencing power of what you say.

5. Be friendly and show empathy to them

I know you’re really busy and this will put you under more pressure’. Smile, be friendly, connect and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’

6. Shrink the task and smooth the path


Make it as easy as possible for the person to do what you want. Break down larger requests into smaller pieces or stages.