If you’re a leader or someone who works with others, then understanding how you influence others is important.

From the most timid person to the most charismatic individual, the reality is that we all have some sort of influence on those around us.  The challenge is to find ways to increase our impact in positive ways so that we can augment the effectiveness of those around us, help to create a more constructive environment and make ourselves more indispensable.

Over the years, I’ve identified four categories that describe how we are influencing those around us.

Intentionally Negative.  There are some people who look for ways to deliberately bring people down and sabotage their efforts.  This can be displayed by spreading malicious rumours, cynicism towards anyone with a different opinion or a propensity to utilise anger or emotional manipulation to get their own way.  Thankfully they’re rare, but the negative impact of such people is large.

Unintentionally Negative.  Some people see the world through a pessimistic lens and while they may keep to themselves, they still have a negative influence.  People who don’t make eye contact, walk in without saying hello, make minimal contributions in team meetings or underestimate their potential to do anything meaningful.

I’ve some across many people who fit this category and many of them are mortified when they realise the influence that they actually have through their behaviour.  They think that no-one notices, so it doesn’t matter, but the reality is that if you are working with others, then it does matter and your team needs you to lighten up, smile more and find ways to express yourself more positively.

Unintentionally Positive.  In this category we find people who are nice and friendly.  When we say hello to people who are unintentionally positive, they respond with a smile and a pleasant greeting in return.  They certainly don’t detract from the mood of the environment that they’re in, but they don’t look for opportunities to improve it.  People like having them around, but their influence is minimal and they don’t often leave a lasting impact.

Intentionally Positive.  People in this category are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to deliberately influence and impact everyone around them.  They’re optimistic, encouraging, thoughtful and sensitive towards the needs of others.  They‘re great cheerleaders for the rest of the team and consciously go into every interaction with the intention of inspiring and motivating everyone who has the good fortune of talking with them.

At different times, we will move between these categories and the challenge is to try to be intentionally positive more often.

As I reflect on my life, I have benefited tremendously from having intentionally positive people around me at different stages of my journey and aspire to be one myself at all times.  I’m not there yet, but aim to be in that quadrant in all of my interactions with family, friends, team-mates and anyone else I come into contact with.

What can you do to become more intentionally positive when interacting with others?

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