C10.6 Consensus Building


To build a consensus on something, you need people to agree with you (and vice-versa). To achieve this, there will be some degree of influence and negotiation.


C10.6.1           Influence


“The power or ability to affect someone’s beliefs or actions.”

“A person or thing with such ability or power.”

“The power arising out of status, contacts, or wealth.”

“The power to produce a physical change.”

Source: Oxford English Dictionary


Influencing people is a major part in an Environmental Professional’s role. If you have found new technology that you consider will reduce waste, you may need to influence a decision by the Senior Management, Production Manager, Purchasing Manager or Financial Manager to ensure that it is obtained and implemented.


There are many difficulties that you will face when attempting to influence someone. For example:

  • People have different agendas and priorities. Their decisions are driven by different issues.
  • People have different levels of knowledge and understanding of various issues. This may lead to misunderstandings through ignorance.
  • You may be restricted by boundaries of your position and authority.
  • There may be insufficient time to fully inform others.
  • There is a natural resistance to change. You may find that people take an entrenched position and ‘dig their heels in’.
  • You may find that you lack the confidence to attempt to try and persuade someone.
  • Relationships within the workplace may be a hindrance. In certain situations you may feel that you do not wish to jeopardise current or future relationships with a specific course of action.
  • There may also be issues of location. Influencing a person face to face is difficult enough, but how do you achieve this if they are based at the opposite end of the country? This would bring difficulties of influencing people using mediums such as email and telephone.


Skills Required

To effectively influence a person, you need to have good communication skills. However, that is not sufficient on its own. For example, you may need:

  • To demonstrate conviction yourself.
  • Patience.
  • Empathy.
  • Listening skills (aural).
  • Assertiveness.
  • Emotional intelligence.
  • Planning.
  • Tenacity.
  • The ability to explain issue clearly.
  • You may also need to distance yourself emotionally form the issue in hand.