Build Better Relationships Using Relational Influence

One key to living a successful, happy life are the relationships we build. The more connected you are at work the better your chances to get ahead. That’s because you have more people that can help you when you need it and more people to learn from.

On a personal level, strong relationships help us live happier, longer lives. That insight comes from a Harvard study that’s been following people for nearly 80 years.

This begs the question: How can we build relationships that can help us at the office and at home? A little influence goes a long way.


This principle of influence tells us it’s easier for people to say yes to those they know and like. While everyone understands this, the vast majority still go about it the wrong way. Rather than spending time trying to get people to like you, focus on liking the people you meet at work and outside of work.

Below are a half dozen ideas to help you do that. Each will make it easier for someone to like you but more importantly, each will also cause you to like the people you meet.

  1. Common – Find out what you have in common with people then talk about what you’ve discovered. It’s natural for us to like people we see as similar to ourselves. The more you see someone is like you, the easier it will be for  you to like them.
  2. Interests – Maybe you’re having a hard time finding similarities. No problem, make it a point to ask about things you know the other person enjoys. As they talk about people, activities or places they love they’ll associate those good feelings with you. At the same time, you’ll probably find them more interesting and likable.
  3. Compliment – When you look for the good in others and pay genuine compliments they feel good. If you’re authentic and do this regularly people will enjoy being around you. The reason you’ll like them more is because you begin to convince yourself about their goodness as you compliment them.
  4. Cooperate – When you and others put forth effort on something like a project, and have success, everyone tends to think more highly of each other. Knowing this, look for opportunities to work with people you want to build relationships with.
  5. Mirroring – When you make it a point to adopt a posture and mannerisms of someone else it gives a sense of comfort with you. That feeling of being in synch will also have you liking them more.
  6. Matching – Take a similar approach to language. For example: if someone speaks slowly, slow your pace. This is making a conscious choice to adjust yourself so the other person feels comfortable with you. You’ll find yourself feeling more comfortable with them too.


Unity goes much deeper than liking. Unity is about a oneness or deep connection you feel with someone else. When you experience unity it’s as if saying yes to the other person is saying yes to yourself.

Unity can’t me manufactured but when it’s discovered you need to talk about it. If you served in the same branch of the military as someone else or happen to be the same religious persuasion, make sure you bond over it. Discovering unity sets you in relationship immediately because you almost see the other person as an extension of yourself or somehow related.


Reciprocity alerts us to the reality that we feel obligated to give back to those who first give to us. This is a relationship builder because when we give to or help others, they naturally appreciate the generosity and the person who enacted it.

The key here is to avoid the “give to get” mentality. If people think you’re only helping to get something it’s very likely they will reject your offer. Instead, give because it’s the right way, the best way, to live life. It’s when people sense your genuine kindness that they appreciate you and what you’ve done.

A few keys to giving that will increase the effectiveness:

  1. Make your giving personalized. They more your giving, or help, is specific to the individual the more it will mean.
  2. More is better. Any opportunity to give or help beyond the minimum will be appreciated even more.
  3. Unexpected giving or help means the most. When you proactively offer to help without being asked, that means a lot.

To Do This Week

If you want to start building stronger, lasting relationships focus on three things:

  1. Connect on liking by focusing on liking the people you meet.
  2. Look for shared identity – unity – and talk about it once you discover it.
  3. Have a giver mentality. Give generously and trust the rule for reciprocation will kick in.

Will everyone respond all the time? No. Will most people respond most of the time? Yes, and this is why you want to authentically engage liking, unity and reciprocity whenever possible.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world.

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