Are you positive or negative when you interact with others? Are they better or worse after you leave? As a parent, spouse, neighbor, friend, coworker, and community member, how do you show up?
Many leaders and people of influence leave a path of destruction in their wake. Every interaction with a child is an opportunity to assert their authority. Conversations with a spouse are about proving themselves right versus empathetic and supportive. There is no handbook on how to lead or be led. We have learned how to manage our interactions with others mainly through observation. Our parents yelled first and asked questions later. We learned that to get what we want, we must manipulate people. Positive influence requires us to show up and experience people. If we’re going to influence another person positively, we must see them as a person rather than a vehicle for getting what we want.
How can we show up for someone and leave them better than when we arrived?
See them as people.
Seeing people is more difficult than you might expect and is only possible with intentional effort. In every interaction, ask yourself, “How can I serve this person?” Asking this question will be a trigger for you to think about the needs, challenges, and objectives of the person with whom you are interacting. Seeing people requires leading with our hearts versus our minds. Leading with our hearts allows us to connect and focus on the other person’s needs. I lose most people with this previous sentence because they assume it will cost them something. They worry about someone taking advantage of them. It is a legitimate concern but within the person’s control. Seeing people enhances our lives by allowing us deeper connections, even with complete strangers. Deep down, each of us longs to be seen and heard. We will go to great lengths to draw attention from others. Unfortunately, our effort to been seen often harms our relationships instead of enhancing them.
Walk the talk.
Again we have a phrase that says easy but does hard for many of us. If you are a parent, know that your children are watching. If you are the boss, know that your people are watching. The individuals we lead are always on the lookout for the slightest bit of hypocrisy. For example, you might call in late to a conference call, and in an effort to save face, you say, “Sorry I am late, guys. I am on the road and was having trouble getting a cell signal”. You think this little white lie doesn’t matter, but the reality is that all lies matter. When others pick up on your efforts to manipulate the truth, your words are immediately discounted. Instead of people accepting your words as truthful, they begin to question every word you speak. They have a measuring stick and will use it to validate you. If you want to influence others, always speak the truth.
Observe your attitude.
Attitude is a significant factor in how we influence others. Our attitude will positively or negatively impact the people around us. If it is negative, we will not be able to see people, and it will inhibit our ability to influence positively. Recently, I took a trip with some friends to Louisville, KY. Some of the guys wanted to visit a casino right across the Ohio River in Indiana. I am not a gambler, and particularly don’t like the smoke often present in casinos. The casino had four levels, three of which were smoking and one nonsmoking. We went to the nonsmoking floor to find a blackjack table. None were available, so we ended up on the third floor with all of the smokers. I had a bad attitude going in, and it kept going downhill. The dealer couldn’t lose, and therefore I was quickly losing my money. My negativity brought down the spirits of the entire table. My friends had come to enjoy themselves, and there I was, making it a miserable experience for all involved. I knew what I was going on. I could see my negativity, but as much as I tried to turn it around, I was unable. I teach this stuff and coach others on positivity, but there I was trapped in a cycle of negativity. Finally, I decided to leave the table rather than continue to poison it. As soon as I left, the luck of the table turned, and my friends started winning. I expected to lose and hated the smoke. My attitude continued to spiral until I finally chose to leave. After leaving, I felt better, and my friends started winning.
How is your attitude? Are you able to observe your emotional state and objectively realize how it is affecting others? When trapped in a state of negativity, are you able to remove yourself from the situation?
Influence can be extremely powerful in affecting lives and societies. Therefore influence comes with great responsibility. If we choose to utilize our influence for good, we must see people, walk the talk, and manage our emotions and attitude. Be mindful of how your words and actions will affect the individuals and organizations you are responsible for. They are watching your every move. Leverage your influence for good.