If you were to ask exactly what it is that a person must do to influence another, you could expect to receive a varied selection of answers.

We have all heard rock bands citing other bands as influences and the tide ebbs and flows under the influence of the moon. People are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and in astrology influence is an ethereal fluid supposedly flowing from the stars and affecting character and destiny. Phew!

And influencing skills in the workplace have just as many interpretations. There is not one single way to influence others, but there are many, but a fundamental factor is that good influencing skills lean far more towards the carrot than the stick.

In the examples of 'influence' at the start of this article, the one of the rock band citing their influences is a good parallel for influencing skills in the work place, in that the influence for the bands was such that it made them want to do something themselves. This is important because it is a far more efficient worker who does a job because he or she wants to do it, than one who goes about their task with resentment at being told what to do.

The old image of the boss having an employee 'on the carpet' and bellowing at him has now been largely consigned to history, although there are doubtless many places where this practice still goes on. But generally speaking we live in more enlightened times where one's dignity is placed higher up the league table than it once was. And to demonstrate good influencing skills you should steer clear of laying down the law and insisting that your way is the right way, rather, through words and actions, you should persuade others to see things from your perspective. But how do you apply influence to a situation?

Well, to return to the examples at the start of this article, applying influence should be like the moon influencing the tides. It should be an invisible force, a subtle ebb and flow, imperceptible as it is happening, but the results of which are clearly obvious.

There are several different types of influencing, three of which we shall look at below in an imaginary scenario where three workers, Tom, Dick and Harry, are needed to work on a project. Each worker responds to a different type of influence as follows.

Tom is subjected to co-operative influencing. In order to give him a taste for the project his experience is called upon to assist in giving help and advice from the early stages. This makes Tom feel involved in the project and so he is keen to take part.

Dick is subjected to logical influencing. It is a case of laying your cards on the table for Dick. Demonstrating to him the value and feasibility of reaching the goal whets his appetite for the project.

Harry is subjected to emotional influencing. Letting Harry know that he is wanted on the project because he is a trusted and valued worker makes him feel good about the job and so he is happy to be a part of it.

To influence people effectively, therefore, requires good communications skills, a positive attitude and a degree of confidence. The ability to apply influence in the workplace is an increasingly valuable skill to possess and I hope that this article may be influential in making you decide to look further into the subject.