3 Influence Mistakes That Block Your Success & What to Do Instead

No matter your job, your influence skills directly impact your performance and power on a daily basis. Influence is your ability to affect the actions and opinions of others. It’s how you work with and through people to effectively get your job done.


Influence may come naturally to you. But without a roadmap, you can make critical mistakes that block your success without your even knowing it. The key is to identify your mistakes so you can change your approach. That way you can move forward with a strategic plan, accomplish your goals, and watch as the path is cleared.

Make sure you learn these three common influence mistakes… 

Mistake #1: Focusing on Yourself

The most common mistake is to make your proposal or pitch about yourself, your department or your team.

What to Do Instead

Decision makers are significantly more likely to give you the green light when you focus on their concerns, considerations, and needs. What is important or of value to the decision maker? Link your proposal to those considerations. For example, you may have an issue with vendor delays. How should you approach the problem with your manager?

  • Don’t say: “I can’t get work out the door on time because of the delays with our vendor parts shipments. Can we switch to another vendor who can meet my schedule?” This is all about your failure or success rather than the decision maker’s or the organization’s.
  • Try instead: “For a few months now our vendor’s late parts deliveries have been hurting on-time delivery on our end. It’s causing our whole organization’s reputation to take a dive. Customers are complaining and threatening to go elsewhere. I’d like to talk with you about switching next quarter to another parts vendor that’s reasonably priced, and is known for their fast delivery and highly-rated product.” This shifts the spotlight away from you. It gives your pitch a broader and more compelling organizational focus that the decision maker is invested in.

Mistake #2: Not Planning for Objections

No matter how compelling your pitch, a decision maker may reject your proposal. If you don’t prepare for and address their potential objections, you’re making a mistake.

What to Do Instead

Your job is to predict what the objections could be, and then address them when you present your ideas to the decision maker. Explore all the possible cons to your proposal before you arrive.

A decision maker may reject your idea because they believe they’ll lose control, power, status or resources by agreeing to what you’re asking of them. If your proposal allows the decision maker to maintain or gain more of what they’re afraid to lose, they’re more likely to say yes.

Here are some ways that you can address these concerns:

  • Control: “Everything that’s currently being managed by your team will remain in place.”
  • Status or Power: “With this proposal, there are no changes to your group’s interface with the managing director on this.”
  • Resources: “We know that resources are a concern for your group. With this proposal your head count will remain unchanged. In fact, it may be possible to increase it by one or two this next quarter.”

You may also encounter decision makers who are risk averse or lack of confidence in you. For solutions to these common objections, read our free Influence ebook.

Mistake #3: Not Identifying Who Could Stand in Your Way

There are individuals in the organization who have the power to stop you from getting what you want. They usually have influence over the decision maker. It’s crucial that you know who these people are and plan for how to get them on your side.

These road blockers are often, but not always, directly or indirectly affected by your influence proposal. They can also be opinion leaders who simply like to be kept in the loop even when the result doesn’t affect them. There will always be casual resisters who can be recruited, but people who actively try to stop you require more planning.

What to Do Instead

Get familiar with these common types of road blockers. Do you recognize any of these?

  • They think your idea has no merit
  • They want what you want
  • They’re acting in solidarity with an active road blocker
  • They’re jealous of you
  • They think you’re not deserving or not ready
  • They feel left out of the loop
  • They’re change resistant

To solve these common roadblock situations, download our free Influence ebook today and start yourself on the path to being a powerful influencer.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/patpitchaya

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