BUILDING strong relationships are critical in business. It is not enough to know the facts and figures and be able to present them. You recognise the need to be more persuasive, but what can you say and do to help you achieve this?

At the beginning of a business relationship, you tend to talk about the weather or something you observed on the drive to the meeting.

As you get to know your client better, you talk about events. Then, you may progress to discussing judgements and ideas.

But the relationship is really advancing when you get to know how the other person really feels about an issue.

So, here are three great things you can say to influence people positively:

1. "How do you feel about that?"

If you have a conflicting view, 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?"

2. "I can see it from your point of view... and..."

If you say, "I agree with you", you lose your position. But if you say, "I don't agree", you lose empathy. If the sentence, "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 it with "and".

If you always use "and", you will find yourself being more conciliatory and persuasive. Better still, try saying, "Is there more?" You can make the point you want to make. The other person will like you more and you will continue to build empathy.

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

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

If you have a colleague you don't get on with as well as you would like, talk to his best friend about what you admire about him and what you think he is really good at. Be honest, sincere and genuine.

What does the buddy do? He goes and tells his friend, of course. And after hearing something nice that you said about him, your colleague, in turn, will appreciate you more. That will help you build a better relationship with your colleague - both sides win!

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