How to influence people

Nicole Soames’ new book explains how learning how to influence people in work situations can help you in everyday situations.

Nicole Soames


The power to influence people is about honing everyday actions and communication skills and having it can have a big impact on every aspect of your life, according to a new book.

The Influence Book by Nicole Soames is based on the idea that influence is “the ability to leverage your emotional intelligence to communicate effectively so that you make it easy for the other person to say yes”.

Soames, whose background is in sales, says it is easier to sell to people who like and trust you so communication is key. She says: “The reality is that we’re actually informally influencing others each and every day.” This includes everything from persuading a friend to go to the cinema and getting a child to eat their greens to negotiating a pay rise.

Her aim with the book is to help people hone those influencing powers in everyday settings.

Influencing is, she says, an important life skill, whatever you do.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence begins with understanding yourself and, through that, others, she states. “By understanding what motivates you to influence a particular situation, you will be in a stronger position to prepare for influencing opportunities,” writes Soames, advising readers to start by noticing how often they try to influence people in everyday situations.

She tells them to think about their circle of influence, focus on the things they can change and list three goals for the year ahead. Any setbacks, she says, should be viewed positively, as learning opportunities.

Soames is the founder and CEO of Diadem Performance, a commercial skills training and coaching company and author of two books, including The Negotiation Book for which she was nominated for the Chartered Management Institute’s Management Book of the Year award.  Her book blends sales and communication skills with the kind of skills gained through life coaching, such as being authentic and consistent. This will help in the workplace, she says, because the majority of people like to do business with those they like and are more likely to trust someone who is not being fake.

Soames says you need to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes to understanding what they want and what motivates them on both a good and a bad day and to communicate in ways that are effective for them. Some people need to confer with others to make a decision, for instance; others are more spontaneous; some are more methodical decisions based on comparisons and other measurable details.

Another key skill is the ability to be curious, ask questions and accept feedback, to analyse what the other person’s challenges are and to paint a compelling, clear narrative of how you can solve them.

Winning hearts and minds

Above all, says Soames, by understanding how different people react in different situations and the way they interact with you, you can choose the strategy that works best and keep focused on the goal in mind. She counsels closing business conversations with an agreement on concrete next steps.

The book ends with a reference to networking in situations which are relevant to you personally and professionally. To do so successfully, says Soames, requires similar communication skills  – being empathetic and interested as well as having something interesting to say. She says: “By nurturing your relationships in these ways, and behaving in an authentic, generous manner, you will be well on your way to winning other people’s hearts and minds and being perceived as an influential person. Strong influencers understand that legacy really does matter.” She ends with a quote from the writer Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

*The Influence Book by Nicole Soames is published by LID Publishing, price £9.99 [currently on sale for £6.40]. 

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