Relationships are critical aren't they? It's not enough to know the facts and figures and be able to present them to a client or, indeed, to colleagues. We all recognise the need to be more persuasive in these situations, but what can we say and do to help us to achieve this?

At the beginning of a relationship we all tend to talk about the weather, the mode of transport to the meeting. A common one is, "How are you?" Put another way, that 'ritual and cliché'.

As we get to know each other better we talk about events; then we discuss judgements and ideas. But the relationship is really progressing when we get to know how the other person really feels about an issue. So here are three great things that you can start saying to influence clients and colleagues.

How do you feel about that?

If you are in conflict, you then need to add to it by saying something like, "If I were you I would feel the same way. What can we do to address the issue together?"

I can see it from your point of view

If you say, "I agree with you", you lose your position. But if you say, "I don't agree", you lose empathy. If "I can see it from your point of view" is followed by "but", you may as well not bother.

The secret is to always follow

that phrase with "and". If you always use 'and', instead of 'but', you will find yourself being more conciliatory and persuasive.

Better still, say, "Is there more?" You can still make the point you want to make. The other person will like you more and you will continue to build empathy.

I'll tell you what I think you're really good at...

This is also a great thing to say in order to build empathy but it too has a flaw - you need to know what you are going to say next! You also have to be sincere.

If you have a colleague you don't get on with as well as you might, talk to their best friend about what you admire about them and what you think they're really good at. Be honest, sincere and genuine. After the conversation, what will their friend do? They'll go and tell their friend, of course. And they, in turn, will like you more, which will help you build that relationship.

Combine these three expressions, use them regularly and you will find yourself being more liked and that, in turn, helps you become more persuasive and influential.

Philip Hesketh is a professional speaker on The Psychology of Persuasion and the author of Life's A Game So Fix The Odds. This is the first in a series of columns by personal coaches.