I have an expressive face, but apart from that I tend not to show a lot of outward emotion. Don’t get me wrong, I think and feel as much as the next person but I’m slow to let others in on what my true thoughts and feelings are.
But regardless of my actual feelings, people tend to take me as aloof, rude, disinterested, snobby, distracted, or uncaring. My reserved nature is rooted in an introverted personality and I never used to think much about it.
While I don’t understand my non-verbal cues I am aware of how others see me. I recognize how I can unintentionally influence people for the worse. And that is something to think about.
The dictionary describes influence as the effect a person or thing has on another. Everyone affects others—for better or for worse. No one can avoid it.
Whether it’s in business, politics, or everyday life, the people we celebrate most are the ones who are imparting positive influence over our behaviour and ethics. We often choose leaders and friends based on the good we believe they will bring to our lives.
But this is nothing new. When Moses needed help ruling Israel, he chose capable men (Exodus 18:25) who had wisdom, understanding, and a good reputation (Deuteronomy 1:12-15). The book of Nehemiah highlights leading by example—solving problems by taking action. And the Apostle Paul made sure to appoint Spirit-filled leaders to oversee the churches he planted (Acts 14:23).
Thinking about my own life, I wonder if I’d be more effective if I was more intentional about what my influence will be. Would my relationships bring glory to God? Would I empower others to choose right over wrong? I hope so. This doesn’t mean I need to deliver every sentence with a smile, but I should be conscious of what my body language communicates to others.
If my goal is to encourage people to look to Christ for their hope but I come off as aloof or uncaring (intentional or not), what impact will I make?
Here are a few ideas for positively influencing others
- Develop a grateful attitude
- Remember, happiness is contagious
- Smile more
- Be polite (say please and thank you)
- Shy away from gossip