How to Influence When You Have No Authority

Sometimes you may find yourself in a position of wanting to affect change but not having the authority to do it. What then? Should you give up? No! Lisa B. Marshall, aka The Public Speaker, will share with you some great tips on how to make a difference even when you’re not in charge.

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read
Episode #329

Commitment and Consistency 

In addition, research has shown that individuals will often follow through with an action even after the original motivation has been taken away. When people resolve to do something, they have a tendency to want to see it through so that they appear consistent. Once you get people to agree to a concept, idea, or action, they will likely stick with it to the end.

One option for you to consider is to suggest a trial period for the new project management software for tasks and communication. This not only makes your idea a little more digestible, but it also sets up circumstances in which you’ve already gotten them to agree in principle. Once they’re on board, even if only temporarily, they will be more inclined to continue using the tool when you ask to make it permanent. 

Social Proof

Humans are social animals and have a basic psychological desire to be like everyone else. 

Next, you might try influencing through social proof. Humans are social animals and have a basic psychological desire to be like everyone else. As a result, we often find ourselves doing the same things we see other people doing in order to fulfill our need to fit in. In your case, you might show how another university (or another group on campus) is using a more sophisticated system of project management for a similar project, and suggest your club give it a try. You may even reference a teacher who strongly suggested a tool like this. Of course, you could also show them online reviews of the products that might fit the bill. The idea is to leverage this need to be like everyone else by sharing with the volunteers how "everyone else" is not using Facebook and instead is using the tool you are suggesting.  


Finally, research shows that people are motivated by “loss aversion.” That is to say, they want to avoid losing at all costs. So when you’re attempting to persuade the team they need to upgrade to a better project management system, it’s important to tell them what’s at stake if they don’t go along with your suggestion. This should be done gently, with a caring attitude and an eye toward your shared goals. Remember, you want to be as friendly and nonthreatening as possible: “If we don’t upgrade our system for communication and tasks, we run the risk of not completing the project on time, of overspending what little budget we have, and of losing credibility with the university.” If you can find stories of other students who made a similar mistake and suffered consequences, all the better.  

Jerome, I strongly recommend you watch my new online course on persuasion called Influence: Maximize Your Impact. In the hour long course, I break down concepts and techniques into short digestible chucks. Also, I cover these all six of Cialdini's weapons of influence in more much more detail. Most importantly, I explain how to apply them. I think you or anyone interested in being more influential will find the video extremely helpful. In fact, as my gift for sending in this question, I've sent you free access to the course. Let me know how it goes!

This is Lisa B. Marshall helping you to lead and influence.  If you'd like to learn more about compelling communication, I invite you to read my bestselling books, Smart Talk and Ace Your Interview and listen to my other podcast, Smart Talk. As always, your success is my business


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.