Five Ways to Influence Your Peers at Work

Now that we’ve addressed persuading superiors and subordinates, there remains one last group of targets to address: your peers. This is known as “influencing sideways.” Peer pressure is among the strongest of all propulsions in the workplace (and elsewhere). How can you leverage it? Here are five ideas:

1. Cultivate favors by doing favors.

You can make people “offers they can’t refuse,” because they are obligated to you. But this requires you to do well by others first, creating — say it with me —reciprocity. A quid pro quo. Whose quid and whose quo can be worked out later. People respond to obligations.

2. Link agendas.

Strive to forge common goals in an attempt to initiate persuasion. Employees at a tech startup, for example, might think they serve two very different customers: the hardware providers and the end users. But there clearly exist areas of overlap, such as eye-popping graphics and the goal of seamless integration. Find the common areas of fulfillment with peers to then share ideas and resources. These may involve people, money, information or facilities. The cost to you is minimal; the effect potentially substantial.

3. Leverage loss aversion.

This may sound harsh, but leveraging the aversion to loss is a key factor in navigating peer pressure. Helping peers feel protected from loss of status, talent, income and market opportunities can significantly impact your desired outcome. Allow people to see that your intentions are comforting, not threatening, and they’ll remember.

4. Covet your credibility.

The fastest path to “yes” is your credibility. The more your peers can rely on your past behavior, track record, honesty and commitment, the more likely they will be to accept your claims, offers and pitches. Reliable inertia takes over when your peers have experienced positive outcomes with you in the past.

5. Be fair.

Ensure that, in reality and in perception, the support you seek is not unilateral. Make it clear and obvious that no one (most importantly, you!) is taking advantage of anyone else. Insist on establishing a win/win dynamic.

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