People think influence is a bad thing. It is not. Merriam-Websters dictionary defines “influence” as “the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways.”
Causing an effect is not evil, not are “indirect” or “intangible” actions “sly” or “sneaky.” Everyday people use influence. In fact, in an article from Phsycology Today, Alex Lickerman (yes, that is his real name) says that, “what we all have in abundance is influence, the power of which seems to function linearly: the closer personally and physically others are to us, the greater our influence over them, and vice versa.” Everyone who has a connection to someone has influence over them. I will give you some personal example.
When you have spent a long time with your friends, you begin to understand what makes them “tick.” My friend Matt Ripper (yes, that is his real name), for example, loves spongebob squarepants and memes. If I want Matt to be in a good mood, or say a certain thing, I only need to reference a Spongebob episode and watch him do the rest.
My new (temporary) friends, are very similar. By revealing small, insignificant details to my college friends I have placed them in a friendship snare with they cannot possibly escape. Allow me to explain. I tell a funny story, at my own expense, and watch as they all bust a gut laughing. I notice that Olivia thinks the joke is especially funny. Next time we are at the Union, I reference this joke by miming a part of the story. Olivia laughs so hard that her drink almost flies out her nose. I reap the benefits by casually mentioning, “Wow, the DC has restocked candy bars, would you guys like one?” Olivia, who has so many Flex Dollars that she may very well have stock in FreshIdeas, offers me her card and says, “Here use my card, get yourself something as well.” All too easy.
By subtly shifting her mood I have gained myself a candy bar, made someone else happy, and no one is the wiser (until you write about it in a blog).
Even now, I am using this blog to influence my temporary friends. You are probably wondering why I keep calling them my temporary friends. Truth is, I truly deeply care about them and don’t want them to be hurt when we don’t see each other anymore. A normal person would outright tell them that. An influencer is too smart to reveal their gushy emotional side. An influencer would call them temporary friends knowing that they would think it is a joke. Slowly, over several weeks, this joke about temporary friendships would simmer until eventually, we reach graduation where our friendship will actually end. This is all in line with this article titled “How to End a Friendship: The Best Tips”. It’s all about “the gradual fade-out.” If I hadn’t prepared them for this day by joking about our “temporary friendship” they would be very emotional and then I would be emotional (and no one wants to see that). As it is, my eyes and shoulder will be very dry come graduation day, all thanks to my handy-dandy
Influencing is not evil, nor is it manipulative, though it can be used for evil. The best question to ask yourself when influencing is, “does everyone win though my influence?” I will conclude with the greatest example of influence anyone has ever seen.