Have you ever stopped to acknowledge the energy you bring into a room? When you think about the meetings you attend, your group of friends, the people you work with, or your family can you identify the “influencers?” Who sets the tone for interaction? What attitudes and behaviors impact the ability to effectively communicate and sustain enthusiasm for whatever interaction you might be in the midst of? I am sure these questions have you thinking of the people who either inspire or snuff out excitement. Do you have someone in your life that can immediately impact your state of mind or opinion? Perhaps you are an influencer. What I find so interesting is that the power of influence can create positive and sustaining impacts or it can drag now productivity and contentment. How do you begin to assess your capacity for influence and create opportunity to be more inspiring, guiding, and swaying in your approach to relationships and teamwork?
Dictionary.com defines influence as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.” Synonyms for influence include – inspiration, guidance, effect, sway. There is no question that our attitudes, thoughts, decisions, behaviors, etc. create a ripple effect. I use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) often when engaging with clients who struggle with negativity, poor self-image, lack of meaning in relationships, and for many other scenarios. Simply put, CBT helps people recognize the impact of their thoughts on their feelings, their feelings on their behavior, and their behaviors on their thoughts. We discuss methods of Thought Stopping and breaking the cycle of destructive thought processes. In my experience, adding the concepts of mindfulness into this conversation is helpful.
A mindful person is increasingly aware of their destructive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as they are occurring. A distracted and disengaged person can get stuck in a cycle of negativity before they realize it. Mindfulness not only helps to increase awareness of where we are physically and emotionally from moment to moment, it strengthens your brain’s ability to create emotional control over situations. Your brain is better equipped to redirect your negative or destructive thoughts if you are engaged in the practice of mindfulness. The Betari Box method describes the manner in which – your attitude has the potential to impact your entire team, family, department, organization, etc. We can affect or be affected by the people that surround us. My attitude impacts my behavior which impacts your attitude and then, in turn, your behavior which can either drive home my anxiety, negativity, or resentment OR it can redirect my thoughts. The beauty in both CBT and The Betari Box lies in the ability to end cycles and create a rebirth of positive, rational, and productive thoughts, feelings, and actions. Drawing in your awareness to your thoughts, feelings, and reactions to others increases your chances of redirecting these destructive cycles.
When we focus on our ability to impact and influence others, there are a number of things to consider. I believe that checking our intentions is always vital to the success of influence. Authenticity and good intentions carry us quite the distance in the art of building meaningful connections. Once we have established that we have good intentions as we move forward in effort to create change or influence people…we need to build rapport. In the Psychology Today article, “The Art of Influence,” the author states that “Divining someone else’s motivations requires empathy.” Understanding the motivations and desires of the people we are connecting with (or even better sharing those motivations) creates connection and common ground. To accurately assess what drives someone, you often have to develop an understanding of where they have been and what they might be in pain from, in fear of, or grieving. Empathy provides affirmation and, again, connection.
In another article I came across while I was digging into the idea of influence, The Subtle Art of Influence, the author states “To elevate the relationship to that level [of influence], focus on three activities: listening, offering help, and building trust. Try to see things from their point of view, and look for common ground and opportunities to share each other’s expertise.” The common thread in all of these articles and pieces of advice is connection. Human connection. Relationship building. We stand to have a greater influence when we work on building genuine and meaningful relationships with people. Sure we can temporarily motivate, “light a fire,” intimidate, or belittle people without connection but to create opportunity to inspire or have an effect on their character or development…a connection is necessary.
While I was writing this post, I had my Madeleine Peyroux station on Pandora playing. The Julie London song, Sway, began to play. At first, I giggled at the coincidence. But then I paused to listen to the words.
Like the lazy ocean hugs the shore
Hold me close, sway me more
Like a flower bending in the breeze
Bend with me, sway with ease
When we dance, you have a way with me
Stay with me, sway with me
Other dancers may be on the floor
Dear, but my eyes will see only you
It is natural to be influenced by and to influence others. Just like the flowers in the wind or the tides impact on the beach…we, as humans, naturally have an impact on each other. The connections we build can change our worldview, impact our resiliency, harness our focus, or adjust our willingness to trust. I am sure you can recollect moments where you felt so connected to someone (romantically or otherwise) that time slipped away and background noise diminished. Connection is powerful. We can influence one another’s decisions and experiences. Imagine just changing the way someone feels about themselves in a given moment and how that feeling can stick with them and impact their self-image.
“Everything you do right now ripples outward and affects everyone. Your posture can shine your heart or transmit anxiety. Your breath can radiate love or muddy the room in depression. Your glance can awaken joy. Your words can inspire freedom. Your every act can open hearts and minds.” David Deida
I believe that we have the capacity to not only decide HOW influential we can be, but we can choose to make this influence positive and uplifting. Acknowledging the responsibility that comes with influence challenges us to keep our attitudes, judgements, words, and behaviors in check. I know that my responses to situations and people have been greatly impacted by my ability to experience these situations and people AS THEY HAPPEN. Being present and aware transforms my reactions and my ability to control my emotions. HelpGuide.org has a great article on the Benefits of Mindfulness: Practices for Improving Emotional and Physical Well-Being that says:
By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.
I encourage you to continue to work a mindfulness practice into your daily life. Deepening connections and building emotional resiliency are both vital to our ability to influence and decide how we are going to BE INFLUENCED. Decide to shine and inspire today.
Peace, love, and laughter,