Are you good at influencing other people?
One of the blogs I’ve visited over the past three months mentioned that it was occasionally okay to toot your horn. The blogger had years of posts which meant they had the experience I lacked. So here goes for a verbal toot.
Influence is one of those words generally heard in the context of bad behaviours: He’s such a bad influence on our Bobbie. Whereas being a good influence takes effort and tenacity, to influence another in a ‘bad’ way seems to happen by osmosis rather than any effort on the part of the influencer. As parents we often marvelled at our children’s ability to spend half a day with the class rat bag and come home a cloned version of said rat bag! Spending the same amount of time with the class genius or master sportsman was considered boring or a pain.
Influence is the ability to have an effect on someone’s character, development or behaviour; the capacity to change a behaviour, and hopefully for the better. As a law abiding citizen I think of myself as someone who has a positive influence on others whether socially or professionally. My work as a counsellor provides plenty of opportunities to influence other’s. In fact that is the purpose of my work: to help people struggling with addictive behaviours to make changes. Ultimately, influence is about being able to persuade someone that there is a better way.
Understanding that my journey is one of lifetime learning there is no presumption on my part that I come as an expert to any situation. I come as someone with experience in a particular field that I’m happy to talk about. Treating people with ‘positive regard’ (never placing them in a win/lose situation) and listening while they tell their story is part of the process of learning about them and understanding how it is you can help them make changes. To earn the right to speak into another’s life it is important to have spent time building the relationship, whether a friendship or a therapeutic alliance. Both these relationships are founded in trust and mutual respect without which influence seldom happens. Of course, I am speaking about my work here but I do understand that we can influence others by our own behaviours and attitudes.
I feel I am good at influencing others to make changes if they’re ready to embrace change. If they are not ready to make changes we remain connected and provide information and support until they are ready to move to the next stage in the change cycle.
So that’s my tooting blog, or should it be my blogging toot?