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The Power of Influencing Skills: A Key to Conflict Prevention and Productivity in the Workplace

In today's fast-paced business world, effective influencing is vital for leadership, collaboration and success.


KEY POINTS

"Influencing skills" as a soft power: In today’s diverse and fast-paced work environments, the ability to influence—persuade and motivate without relying on authority—is crucial to avoid conflict at the workplace and enhance productivity.
Emma’s story: A professional’s successful navigation of team conflicts through strategic communication, negotiation and relationship-building outlines tired-and-true steps to avoid conflict, highlighting the practical benefits of mastering influencing skills in real-world scenarios.
Long-term leadership success: Effective influencing is about not just achieving immediate goals, but also cultivating a leadership style that promotes trust, respect and, ultimately, adaptability, resilience and collective success.
Influencing others
author
JAMS Pathways Editors

In contemporary work environments, which are characterized by rapid change and diversity, the ability to influence peers stands out as the gold standard. This capability allows professionals to devise strategies for conflict prevention and resolution, motivate teams and drive productivity without necessarily relying on hierarchical power. Dubbed a "soft power," this approach is particularly valuable in complex scenarios where a coercive approach might not work, failing to create the necessary buy-in for seamless, productive collaboration between teams.

What exactly is this soft power? Also known as influencing skills, it generally refers to the ability to persuade and motivate others to adopt certain behaviors, attitudes or decisions. While some perceive influencing skills as manipulative, when used ethically and with good intentions, they become a powerful tool for driving positive change, effectively reducing conflict in the workplace. Frequently, success stems from the ability to understand different perspectives, employ empathy and use effective communication to navigate conflicts amicably.

To understand exactly how these skills apply in real life, consider the story of Emma, a project manager, and how she used them to navigate an emerging conflict.

Emma's story: A master class in influencing skills

Tasked with a challenging project involving two teams following a corporate acquisition, Emma leveraged her influence to ensure smooth integration. Recognizing the importance of acting proactively, she took several strategic steps:

  • Organized informal coffee meetings
  • Initiated collaborative workshops focusing on shared goals
  • Requested that both teams’ managers organize team-building events
  • Remained open to team and external feedback, applying it when possible

Although the project was delayed by a few months due to the merger, it proceeded with no major conflicts, smoothly transitioning to the next project phase. As they are excellent examples of how to handle conflict in a team setting, it will be useful to dissect the principles behind Emma’s influencing approach.


1. Active communication

Emma understood early that open, transparent communication was critical to ease tension in the workplace. Her coffee meetings provided a relaxed setting where team members could voice concerns, aspirations and expectations. These conversations were vital for Emma to gather insights into potential conflict areas and communicate her vision for the merged teams’ future. By actively listening and responding with empathy, she encouraged a collaborative rather than defensive approach to the merger.


2. Strategic negotiation

Aware of the differing priorities and potential friction areas between the two teams, Emma utilized her strategic negotiation skills during the workshops to identify mutual interests. Recognizing these as common issues in the workplace, she didn't allow conflicts to intensify; instead, she proactively led solution-oriented discussions geared toward win-win results, turning obstacles into avenues for collaboration.


3. Building relationships

One of Emma’s key strategies was focusing on creating positive relationships within and across the newly formed team through team-building activities. She understood that the key to de-escalate conflict in groups is to facilitate mutual respect and camaraderie, thereby fostering cooperation and flexibility.


4. Leveraging expertise

Recognizing the unique skills and knowledge each team member brought to the table, Emma facilitated opportunities for everyone to showcase their strengths in the workshops. This approach boosted morale and ensured that the merged teams could benefit from a diverse set of competencies, while further solidifying her influence as a facilitator with the group’s best interests in mind.


5. Demonstrating leadership by example

Throughout the integration process, Emma consistently led by example, demonstrating the behaviors she hoped to instill in her team. Her dedication to transparent communication, empathetic engagement and collaborative problem-solving set a precedent, inspiring her team members to contribute their best.


6. Encouraging feedback and continuous improvement

One of the best strategies to prevent conflict in the workplace is to listen. Emma created channels for open feedback within her teams, encouraging everyone to share their thoughts on the integration, new working methods and overall dynamics. By valuing and acting on this feedback, she demonstrated a commitment to adapting to the team’s needs, making them feel valued and involved in the decision-making process. 

In environments demanding flexibility, innovation and collaboration, the ability to influence effectively distinguishes successful leaders and cohesive teams. Its core principles demonstrate that focus shouldn't just be on achieving short-term goals, but on cultivating a leadership style that fosters long-term trust and respect, leading to the team’s resilience, adaptability and collective success. 

The Positive Impact of Masterful Influencing

Emma’s success and the broader lesson for today’s professionals are clear: In environments demanding flexibility, innovation and collaboration, the ability to influence effectively distinguishes successful leaders and cohesive teams. Its core principles demonstrate that focus shouldn’t just be on achieving short-term goals, but on cultivating a leadership style that fosters long-term trust and respect, leading to the team’s resilience, adaptability and collective success.

The good news is that with training, it is possible to avoid conflicts and de-escalate existing ones. Investing in development programs that cultivate influencing skills can yield significant returns in terms of communication, collaboration and overall workplace effectiveness. As organizations strive to thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape, the power of influencing skills cannot be overstated. It's about getting things done with integrity, empathy and a shared sense of purpose.

Disclaimer:
This page is for general information purposes. JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness. Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals.
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