Whether we are at home, at work, or standing in line at Starbucks, how we show up and the energy we project influences those around us. If we are tired or irritable, that energy impacts our kids, our coworkers, or the person taking our order. Conversely, if we are smiling, energetic, and curious, that positive energy can lift the moods of those that we interact with. Hence, how we show up and how we present ourselves has ramifications for how we operate as a family, a team, or a collection of strangers.
One of the first actions we can take to nurture and control our influence is to become self-aware. To notice how our actions impact not just ourselves, but others too. Recognize the way that a good mood can be contagious to others. It can increase the energy in a room and lead to more collaboration and creativity. One of the best parts is the fact that the ripple effects of positivity can be long lasting.
On the flip side, we need to be equally aware of the factors that might negatively affect our influence – for example, when we are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, we may not be positioned to easily experience positivity in our mindset. This energy not only drains us but can also sap the energy of others. This is especially true if we lash out because we lack the emotional regulation required for the moment.
In this article, I will outline eight important factors that can help you be a positive influence, whether at work or at home. These factors include: Honesty, Slowing Down, S.M.A.R.T. Communication, Healthy Work/Life Balance, Accountability, Personal Growth and Development, Adopting a Growth Mindset, and Expressions of Gratitude and Joy.
Step 1 – Be Honest
Honesty is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. Honesty leads to trust and with trust, we foster an environment of vulnerability, one in which each person feels safe when sharing a mistake or lapse in judgment. Whether it’s your kids relaying an issue at school or a coworker sharing that a deadline won’t be met, without trust, those issues get hidden or avoided. And when that happens, the problems tend to get worse, further eroding trust. Instead, through open, honest communication, we are able to work together to solve problems and strengthen the bond of our relationships. Just remember, honesty works both ways – we need to be honest with ourselves and with others. Positive influence starts with honesty.
Step 2 – Slow Down
My grandmother used to tell me, “haste makes waste.” And that was before all of the technology we take for granted today was pervasive. Back then, as a kid, when I went too fast, I got hurt or I got the answer to the question wrong. As an adult, when I go too fast, I make mistakes with far greater consequences. Hence, slowing down is a skill that the most successful people have learned to cultivate. By slowing down, we are rooted in the present moment. We can be more mindful of the things that we say and do, as well as the words and actions of others. When we are fully present, we increase our influence because those around us feel seen and heard.
Step 3 – Be S.M.A.R.T. in How we Communicate
Another benefit of slowing down is that it allows us to take the time to be clear in how we communicate. If you analyze the cause of most problems at home or at work, lack of clarity is a very common culprit. Did you fully explain what needed to be done and outline expectations? Did the other person understand what you meant? Did they ask questions?
At IA Business Advisors, we practice using S.M.A.R.T. in all of our communications. When setting goals, scoping a project, or providing feedback, we strive to be specific in what we say. We invite questions to make sure that everyone is on the same page. From there, we make sure that the outcome is measurable, and that the tasks and goals associated with the project are both attainable and realistic. Finally, we make sure that it is time bound. A timeline allows for the measurement of progress and should also allow for adjustments along the way to accommodate unforeseen challenges. By being S.M.A.R.T. in how we communicate, we increase our positive influence by being clear on what and how we communicate. And on what we expect.
Step 4 – Promote a Healthy Work/Life Balance
As leaders, this one is tricky. Work piles up, deadlines loom, and client expectations can come pouring in at any moment, so we put in long work hours when there is a need to. But, if we are not careful, that can become the norm as opposed to an exception. This issue, however, is not contained to leaders only, because when leaders carry an “all work, all the time” attitude, that mentality can spill over into the teams that they lead.
Step 5 – Be Accountable
While some of the previous items on this list have been about clarity, this item is about consistency. As humans and as leaders, if we want to build and sustain a positive influence, we must follow through with the things that we say we are going to do. That requires us to
Step 6 – Seek Opportunities for Personal Growth
As a leader, we must continuously strive for personal and professional growth. Reading books, working with a coach, attending workshops and seminars, or joining an affinity group are all great ways to learn and grow. Using that new knowledge, we can take the initiative to identify areas for improvement and propose constructive solutions. Moreover, when we seek opportunities for improvement and share what we learn, we inspire and influence those around us to do the same.
Step 7 – Foster a Learning Culture and Invest in Others
Building on Step 6 above, leaders are at their strongest when they are surrounded by independently strong individuals and teams. For this reason, we recommend creating an environment and culture that encourages continuous learning and skill development. By providing team members with the resources and time to attend training seminars, or connect with mentors, coaches, and industry leaders, we promote a growth mindset within our organization. And when that happens, the influence of the entire organization grows in a positive manner.
Step 8 – Show Gratitude and Celebrate Achievements
Express appreciation for the efforts of your team. Do it publicly and do it often. Gratitude is a powerful tool. A simple “thank you” or expression of gratitude can boost morale and build more positive relationships. In addition, celebrate the accomplishments of the team including birthdays and other important milestones and events whether work-related or personal. Recognizing significant moments and the contributions of our team can be shared through various mediums such as newsletters, team meetings, through chat or email, or even on an office whiteboard. When it comes to expressing gratitude or recognizing the efforts of others, the truth is, the “how” matters far less than the “what” or the “why”. As leaders, our influence multiplies when we acknowledge and celebrate the efforts and achievements of our team and fosters a sense of pride and camaraderie that radiates outward.
Being a positive influence is an ongoing effort. It starts with being self-aware and recognizing that our words and actions impact those around us. How we show up mentally, physically, and emotionally impacts the people we work with and the people we love. If we are feeling hungry, or angry, or lonely, or tired, instead of trying to soldier on and potentially saying or doing something that will negatively impact someone, we should take the time we need to recharge. Conversely, when we are feeling good and bubbling over with positive energy, we should share the wealth of that feeling and lift the spirits of the people in our lives. Drop a compliment. Ask them about their day. Smile.
Each day, we are given multiple opportunities to act in ways that create positive influence. By following the steps outlined above, you put yourself on the fast track to increasing the strength and range of that influence. When we focus on building self-awareness and improving each day, our positive energy influences everyone we interact with; like the ripples on a pond created from a single stone, acts of positive influence cause positive energy to spread. So, slow down, be intentional with your words and actions, and make the time to spread your positive influence. Just, don’t be surprised when that positivity is amplified and the people around you begin to flourish as well (wink).