Persuading powers

August 29 2015

This year the AOP has established a series of one-day professional development workshops designed for people at all levels of practice. OT’s Emily McCormick learns about Building your powers of persuasion, which will be held in October 

The AOP, in partnership with The Careers Group, University of London, is delivering a series of professional development workshops this year. While two of the CET-accredited workshops were well received this spring, a further two will be hosted at the Association’s London offices during the autumn.

The first of these will be a one-day workshop on Building your powers of persuasion, to be held on October 21. 

Approved for two interactive CET points, the course is designed to equip optometrists, dispensing opticians and key members of the practice team with the tools and techniques required to adapt the approach they use when influencing people, to increase their chances of having an impact in a range of situations.

Explaining what the workshop will cover, course leader and careers consultant at The Careers Group, Sue Moseley, told OT: “We will look at a range of situations in which people need to influence the behaviours and decisions of others. This could be winning others over to your point of view, motivating staff or making a business case.”  

Highlighting that the workshop is suitable for “anyone who would like to increase their ability to influence other people’s thinking and have greater personal impact,” delegates will also learn a model for influencing effectively and will have the opportunity to practise their influencing skills on each other.
Ms Moseley added: “Using up-to-date research to understand what motivates people and how they really make decisions, we will also explore a range of tried-and-tested techniques to increase your chances of being heard and getting your message across.”

Building your powers of persuasion will be held at the AOP’s offices in Clerkenwell, London, from 9.30am–4.30pm, on October 21. The workshop costs £150 for AOP members, and £300 for non-members. 

A final workshop for 2015, Developing and using confident behaviour, will be held on November 15. 

For more information and to book, visit

OT speaks to careers consultant at The Careers Group, Sue Moseley, about the importance of influence 

Why is it important to be an effective influencer in the workplace? 
In most jobs you frequently depend on other people in order to achieve your goals. The actions and opinions of your customers, your colleagues, your team and your boss can make your life easier or more difficult. The better you are at expressing your needs and ideas so that other people will listen to them, understand them and take account of them, the more likely you are to be successful and satisfied in your work.

What are the most common influencing scenarios?
Pretty much every encounter you have in the workplace will involve influencing, whether you are aware of it or not. Most people become aware of the need to influence when they have just failed to do it. Common situations might include: trying to get colleagues or managers to listen to your ideas and being completely ignored, only for someone else to get the credit for coming up with them later; dealing with resistant or sceptical customers; or persuading people to take them seriously for a promotion or other career-related opportunities.

How can a person better prepare themselves for these situations?
One of the most important things you can do is to spend time putting yourself in the position of the person you are trying to persuade. The more you can understand what makes them tick, the more likely you are to approach the situation in a way that will increase your chances of success. Few people are influenced by facts alone: you have to find out what motivates someone in order to really know how to influence them.

What three tips would you give to becoming an effective influencer? 
1.    Increase your awareness of influencing in every interaction. What influence are you having on the other person? How are they influencing you? If you are not aware of it, you can not control it
2.    Pay attention to those people who seem to get their way most often. Think about how they achieve that and bear in mind that they may start influencing long before the results become obvious
3.    Be adaptable. There is no magic formula for influencing which will work for all people in all situations. Try different approaches and see what you can learn from the results, even if they are negative

What are the key take home messages for practitioners attending the workshop?
Influencing is not just about having the best arguments, or having the facts on your side, it’s about understanding why people might be willing or reluctant to have their minds changed. 

Most people spend too much time honing arguments for themselves and not for other people. A good influencer is able to take on other people’s perspectives.

The more different ways of persuading people you have available, the more likely you are to spot the best ones to use in different situations.

Make sure you keep learning from every influencing success and every influencing failure.

What other groups of people have benefited from this workshop and why? 
We have used these techniques and ideas in this workshop to help new managers motivate their teams, to help doctors learn how to influence patients, fellow clinicians and NHS managers, and to support job seekers become more effective in applications and interviews. 

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