If you were to stop and think of a few people who have influenced you, you will most likely list the people who have influenced you positively. This list would most likely also consist of people in recognized positions of authority. And yet we are influenced by the people we interact with everyday and we, in turn, influence them. It might have been simpler if one needed to be “important” in order to influence others. But since we influence people by just being, be intentional about influencing positively.
Its interesting to note how negative influence can direct our behavior more powerfully. Consider these: We misuse our authority because our bosses misused theirs even if we have had just one such boss. We cling to people obsessively because someone in the past had deserted us even though several others have remained by our side. We struggle with trust issues at work and home because someone betrayed us in the past even though we want to be trusted. Without being fully aware of the influence people have on us, we allow them to direct our actions and often life principles.
Have you noticed how you can influence people by your actions? People see what you do and often follow your lead. This is most evident when you react in a certain way when listening to someone. If you sport a bored or disinterested look, the conversation usually ends very quickly. On the other hand, when you look engaged and interested, you can get someone to reveal more than they intended to.
Simple actions can affect the course of events without any apparent effort. You will find that when you lead change, it is easier to include the team; when you arrive on time, others are more punctual; when you are kind to someone, the response is at least courteous. By being consistent in your actions you can influence people in powerful ways.
Firm handshakes influence relationships. It simply says “I am interested in what you have to offer”. Smile, they say, enhance beauty. It has the power to influence warmth and cheerfulness. A straight face on the other hand can mean business. With a frown you can influence the others around you to stay away and be unfriendly. Your posture during meetings can influence its effectiveness.
When conversing or training, it is recommended that you stand straight and don’t slouch. Your style can influence the audience to be interested or bored. Standing straight can spell power and leadership. Placing your hands on your hips can be authoritative or open mindedness. It can be more powerful than having your hands crossed. You influence your world without even using words.
You can be more intentional when using words to influence someone, but the tone that you use can also play an important part. You can say the kindest word in the meanest tone and it will have the meanest influence. It’s simple how that works. This is more evident during interactions with children. We can help them behave or continue being disobedient by using the right tone. Using an engaging tone, can make you sound more approachable. Using an excited tone can turn something small into something more celebratory. Using a quiet tone can make something sound more serious.
There is a difference between having an influence and manipulating someone. They are not interchangeable terms. Having an influence can involve more than one interaction but as this article points out, each interaction can add up to the influence you have on your situation. Be aware of your opportunities and influence.