8 ways lawyers can influence and impact beyond their title

By Dr Amy Silver|23 March 2021

Our ability to serve customers and efficient businesses relies on strong collaboration. As leaders we must communicate with impact across the supply chain, across departments and across teams. Hierarchical control is one way of influencing but we need to understand how to have influence out of hierarchy as well, writes Dr Amy Silver.

Our performance is determined by, or limited by, our ability to influence. How do we build momentum, have impact, drive decisions or change behaviour when we do not have direct control?

Influence is the skill of enabling others to drive our priorities. However, we cannot rely on control to do that. In general, we do not like being told what to do or to feel controlled by someone else.

If we feel threatened by someone or their behaviour, we will use protective behaviours. If we do not feel safe with another person we will characteristically avoid them or their goals, or we will perhaps get triggered into defensive or attacking behaviours. If we do not feel threatened by someone, if we feel safe when we are around them it is a very different picture. When we feel safe with someone, their influential power over us is immense, infinite.


When we are safe, our threat response is switched off. No longer are we susceptible to fight or flight, we are open to connect, learn, ideate. If we want to influence others we must learn to make them feel safe. Here are some ways you can help people feel safe with you.

1) Be reliable

Do what you say you will do. Routines, predictability and clear boundaries make people feel safe.

2) Be honest

Being honest is a great way to build trust of course! However, take this a little further and build connection to people by showing some of your vulnerabilities.


Not your biggest vulnerabilities, but ones that give people a glimpse into your thoughts and emotions. Humans identify more with people who are comfortable with their flaws rather than those who pretend they are flawless.

3) Be curious

Listen to other people’s points of views and be interested in their thoughts. Asking good questions, seeking their opinions and valuing their ideas show that you are capable of letting people shine when they are with you.

4) Be appreciative

Make people feel positive about themselves or their work and they will feel a sense of belonging and a sense of pride when they are with you.

5) Be kind

Being generous towards someone or their thoughts is immensely important to build trust. This can most clearly be demonstrated when kindness is not present. People feel threatened and vulnerable to being attacked.

6) Be observant

If we are wanting to influence someone’s behaviour, we must become observant of that person. What patterns of thinking do they have, what patterns of behaviour? How can I spot their fight and flight system being activated and not get caught in responding to it but rather focus on calming it?

7) Be humble

Arrogance is not appealing and throwing our weight around is not in the long-term a good influencing technique. Instead, share the glory, don’t brag, don’t take airtime from others and invite others to help you rather than trying to do something alone.

8) Be a learner (of self)

Most of the time we act with little consciousness. Our behaviours are controlled by our internal habits. We are limited by our habits.

By raising our consciousness of the thoughts and voices in our heads we can learn how to flex our behaviour to suit our needs. By controlling our internal guests we will choose behaviours consciously (rather than unconsciously) and create opportunities for impact and influence.

As leaders, we must develop a way of managing ourselves so we can get the best out of those around us. Understanding how to create psychological safety (calm their threat system, their fight-or-flight responses) for others is a masterful way to create trust and influence. To have influence and impact as a leader in retail we must know how to manage people’s sense of safety at work. This is not a nice-to-have but an essential.

Dr Amy Silver is the author of The Loudest Guest and is a psychologist, speaker and the founder of The Courage Club.

8 ways lawyers can influence and impact beyond their title
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