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7 Steps to Influence Others in One-on-One Conversations

Leaders know that decisions made in the meeting are actually made before the meeting. Being able to influence others before the meeting will make the meeting go much more effectively. Here are 7 steps you can use to influence others in one-on-one conversations.

The importance of influential conversations

When I functioned on the executive team of a large organization, I saw how important influential conversations were to the success of a project.

Some of my zealous direct reports would bring up a topic in the meeting hoping to get a decision in the meeting. I found those conversations usually took longer and many times were met with opposition.

Have these situations happened to you?

  • You have a complaint about something or someone and you aren’t doing anything about it.
  • You have the opportunity to have more impact but are holding back.
  • People have said you need to be more flexible in conversation and influence.
  • You are frustrated by how hard it is to get things done in your organization.
  • You have good ideas but are not sure how to help others see your point.

On the other hand, when a direct report discussed an issue with me first, we were able to design a strong strategy together. When they brought up the issue in the meeting, the results were noticeably better than the “shoot from the hip” approach.

Now as I coach leaders to have influential conversations with a decision-maker, boss, or client, these 7 steps have proven to be very helpful.

The Benefits of influencing others in one-on-one conversations include:

  • Having more influence and impact
  • Knowing that others really heard you and your ideas
  • Enjoying the feeling of achieving your goals
  • Getting things done while strengthening relationships


Here are the 7 steps and a sampling of questions in this tool.

Step 1: Set a goal—this is where influence starts.

  • What do you want the person to do, say, think, or feel differently?
  • Be sure that your goal is specific, measurable, and something that can be achieved in one meeting.

Step 2: Assess how the other person is thinking about the situation.

  • What will motivate the other person?
  • How can you address his or her key interests, concerns, frustrations and/or before bringing up your own?

Step 3: Choose the best appeal.

  • Left Brain: Use facts, logic, data and information that matter to the person.
  • Right Brain: Use stories, word pictures, and metaphors to connect with the person.
  • Gut: Speaking straight like a negotiation and performance review.
  • Heart: Be vulnerable to understand what they need to really commit.
  • Spirit: Call on shared values, experiences and aspirations.
  • Vision: Create a compelling picture of the future.

Step 4: Structure your approach.

  • State what you want the other person to do, think, or feel.
  • What will you say to show you have heard and acknowledge their issues?
  • What other appeal can you make in case your first strategy fails to work, or new information emerges that you didn’t consider.

Step 5: Plan for the worst.

  • What could go wrong in this meeting? It is usually because of emotions or new facts.
  • What are things you definitely should not say?
  • Where is your line that, if crossed, you will have to excuse yourself and reschedule another time?

Step 6: Rehearse.

  • Clear and vent all that you want to say but know you should not!
  • How do you want to start the conversation?
  • Practice a few times with an objective person so you feel more natural.

Step 7: Pray. Give God a chance to change their heart.

  • “The king’s heart is at stream of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He will." (Proverbs 21:1)
  • "On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.” (Proverbs 10:13)
  • "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1)

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. ~ Ken Blanchard

Who are you trying to influence and how could these 7 steps could help you?

Check out Leader’s Toolkit for frameworks which have helped other leaders.