The Influence Skills

As the TOPS model shows, influence effectiveness is partly a function of the skill with which the influencer uses an influence technique. Like a skilled craftsman, it takes time and practice to perfect those skills.

People who become highly skilled in the areas described below can be extraordinarily effective at leading and influencing other people.

power of influence
©Serban Enache/

The research on power and influence shows that there are twenty-eight skills associated with influence effectiveness. These skills fall into four categories: communication and reasoning, assertiveness, interpersonal, and interactive.

Communication and Reasoning Skills

Logical reasoning

The ability to think logically, to analyze problems and identify logical solutions to them.

Analyzing and displaying data visually

Skill at creating charts, graphs, illustrations, and other visuals that clearly convey the relationships among data points and communicate ideas and conclusions clearly in visual form.

Finding creative alternatives

Being creative and innovative; the ability to see alternatives and solutions where others haven’t; skill at “thinking outside the box.”


Skill at asking insightful questions that lead others to the heart of the problem or issue.

Speaking conversationally

The ability to engage people in casual conversation; skill at conversing on a number of topics; being a skilled conversationalist.

Conveying energy and enthusiasm

Bringing energy and enthusiasm to interactions and situations; being naturally energetic and engaged; the ability to get others energized.


Skill at actively listening to others; being engaged in others when they are speaking and accurately hearing and retaining the essence of their thoughts.

Assertiveness Skills


Skill at stating an opinion with confidence or force; presenting ideas strongly and affirmatively; maintaining one’s position without becoming aggressive.


Skill at enduring steadfastly; continuing on one’s course despite opposition or resistance; being insistent and tenacious.

Behaving self-confidently

Having faith in one’s own judgment, abilities, and rights; projecting firmness and steadfastness in one’s purpose, directions, and goals.

Behaving authoritatively

Skill at projecting authority; behaving as though one has the legitimate right to use authority; clearly stating a decision, conclusion, or course of action.

Using a compelling tone of voice

Having a strong, firm, and resonant voice; the ability to command attention when one speaks.

Using assertive non-verbals

Skill at using strong and confident gestures, facial expressions, and body language; projecting confidence and assurance through all the non-verbal aspects of communication.

Using authority without appearing heavy handed

The ability to command others and use legitimate authority without being overbearing, clumsy, oppressive, or harsh.  A key skill in using the influence technique stating.

Interpersonal Skills

Being friendly and sociable with strangers

Skill at opening up to and engaging with people one does not know; being outgoing and conveying warmth, acceptance, and interest in strangers.  A critical skill in the influence technique of socializing.

Showing genuine interest in others

Skill at conveying genuine interest in other people; being authentic in showing care, concern, and curiosity in other people; skill at making others feel important.  A critical skill in socializing and appealing to relationship.

Having insight into what others value

Having a strong, intuitive understanding of other people and what is important to them; skill at discerning what others value without them having to say what it is; interpersonal perceptiveness.

Being sensitive to others’ feelings

Skill at understanding others’ emotions and empathizing with them.

Building rapport and trust

Skill at building harmonious and sympathetic relationships with others; skill at conveying trust in others as well as causing them to feel that one can also be trusted; establishing trustful connections with others.

Building close relationships

The ability to create trusted friendships and close relationships with other people; skill at sustaining intimate and friendly relationships with others over a period of time.

Supporting and encouraging others

Skill not only at helping and encouraging others but conveying that attitude as well; giving aid or assistance to others; and promoting, advancing, inspiring, or stimulating others and encouraging them to forge ahead.

Interaction Skills

Convincing people to help you influence others

Skill at enlisting others’ support and assistance in influencing others; skill at building agreement and cooperation and a unified sense of purpose, particularly in approaching others and trying to persuade them as well.  The most critical skill in the influencing technique of alliance building.

Resolving conflicts and disagreements among others

Skill at managing conflict; the ability to identify core issues, find creative and mutually acceptable solutions, and reduce the emotion in situations that prevents resolution; skill at mediation.

Building consensus

The ability to mediate differences of opinion and reach solutions that others can accept; skill at creating harmony and agreement among people who initially disagree.

Taking the initiative to show others how to do things

A strong interest in and desire to teach others; skill at coaching, teaching, advising, and helping others in developing their skills and abilities.  An essential skill in the influencing technique modeling.

Bargaining or negotiating

Skill at reaching agreement with others over an exchange of things of value; skill at discussing terms and reaching a satisfactory agreement in a settlement, bargain, or deal.  Crucial to the influencing technique of exchanging.

Willingness to ask others for favors

The ease and comfort with which one is willing to ask other people for something done or granted out of kindness or good will.  An essential ability in appealing to relationship.

Willingness to do favors for others

One’s willingness to do something or grant something to others out of kindness or good will and with no expectation of renumeration.  An essential ability in appealing to relationship.

Influence Skill Difficulty and Potential Impact

The table below lists the twenty-eight influencing skills, the difficulty each skill is to master, and the potential impact each skill can have on leading and influencing others.  The skills are ranked according to potential impact and then by difficulty.  Bargaining or negotiating, for instance, has very high potential impact but is also a difficult skill to master.  Conversely, persisting has low potential impact and is easy to master.  In developing your leadership and influencing skills, you will have more leverage with the skills having the greatest potential impact, even though many of them are difficult to master.  These rankings are based on twenty years of research on power and influence that I conducted at Lore International Institute, which is now part of Korn/Ferry International.

Influence Skills Type of Skill Difficulty Potential Impact
Convincing people to help you influence others Interaction Very high Very high
Resolving conflicts and disagreements among others Interaction Very high Very high
Using a compelling tone of voice Assertiveness Very high Very high
Bargaining or negotiating Interaction Very high Very high
Using authority without appearing heavy handed Assertiveness High Very high
Taking the initiative to show others how to do things Interaction High Very high
Building consensus Interaction High Very high
Behaving authoritatively Assertiveness Very high High
Using assertive non-verbals Assertiveness Very high High
Having insight into what others value Interpersonal High High
Probing Communication and reasoning High High
Finding creative alternatives Communication and reasoning Medium High
Supporting and encouraging others Interpersonal Medium High
Building rapport and trust Interpersonal Low High
Building close relationships Interpersonal Very high Medium
Showing genuine interest in others Interpersonal Medium Medium
Conveying energy and enthusiasm Communication and reasoning Medium Medium
Asserting Assertiveness Medium Medium
Listening Communication and reasoning Medium Medium
Behaving self-confidently Assertiveness Low Medium
Logical reasoning Communication and reasoning Low Medium
Willingness to ask others for favors Interaction Very high Low
Being sensitive to others' feelings Interpersonal High Low
Analyzing and displaying data Communication and reasoning High Low
Willingness to do favors for others Interaction High Low
Being friendly and sociable with strangers Interpersonal Medium Low
Speaking conversationally Communication and reasoning Low Low
Persisting Assertiveness Low Low

Copyright © 2010 by Terry R. Bacon.  All rights reserved.

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