This is a topic I’ve struggled with for some time. Generally, we want other people to choose options that they wish to choose. We don’t want them to do something purely because we think it’s right. We want them to decide it’s right.
For instance, when I was thinking of leaving work, several people said that they did not wish to influence my decision. They wanted me to choose what was right for me and not what was right for them.
Well let me say to everyone out there. It’s too late! If you are in my life you are already influencing me. No words can sometimes say as much as an entire book.
Let’s just think about how easy and simple it is to be influenced or to influence other people. If you walk down the street, look at someone and smile. Don’t do it in a creepy way, but in a “hi I’m happy and I might not know you but I still hope you have a good day.” This person will no doubt smile back, it may only be for a split second. But a split second is all it takes for someone to feel good about themselves and thus they end up having a good day.
This also works in a negative way. If you bump into someone walking down the street and you look angry and say something like “watch where you’re going!” You could have easily just made that person angry. For all you know that person could have been a teacher. The teacher then goes to school in a bad mood and isn’t as enthusiastic while teaching maths. Timmy used to enjoy maths but after this one lesson he felt discouraged and didn’t understand something he thought would be quite simple. Timmy comes to choosing what he wants to do after school and he remembers this simple topic he didn’t understand and decided maths isn’t right for him. He then chooses to go to college and do something like bakery because he doesn’t know what else to do. Five years later he’s hating his career choice but he has a partner and a young child. He has to stick at it to get the money to feed the young child. But Timmy isn’t happy he doesn’t like his life and his son Sam can tell this and knows this and has a miserable childhood because his father, Timmy, hated his life. All because of someone bumping into Timmy’s teacher in the street.
Now if Timmy’s teacher was in a positive mood that day, Timmy may well have understood the topic, chose to carry on with maths and decided to go into theoretical physics because he loved the challenge and loved the maths. He could then advance our understanding of our universe and everything around us. All because his teacher was in a positive mood.
My point with those examples is quite simple. Even the smallest of interactions influences people and the future of others.
So to avoid influencing anyone you should stay away from people, lock yourself up and don’t interact at all right? Wrong. Again, sometimes the lack of something can be as influential as the something itself.
If you take music as an example, it’s not just the notes that make the music, it’s not just the pauses between the notes either, it’s the combination which creates a song.
So can we avoid influencing people’s choices? I don’t think there’s anything we can do to not influence. Once we enter this world it’s too late. You have already influenced at least 5 people and your counter just exponentially increases from there.
I hate the thought that I’m influencing someone and the choices they are making, but I also have to accept that no matter what I do, I will be influencing them.
So the next time someone asks for your advice and you don’t want to influence their choice. Instead of saying so, just try to help them sift through their thoughts so they know and understand what they are thinking. Be a friend. Not just to those you know but be a friend to everyone you come across.
You never know when you’ll have a day where all you need is someone walking by you and smiling.