Influence can come in a variety of forms. From a viral campaign on social media, to a presidential election campaign, to the pleadings of your children for that much-dreamt-of holiday to Disney World. So what does influence mean to you? How do you influence people and, conversely, how do they influence you?
I’m an emotional decision maker. This means that I’m influenced by a more personal approach. I’m easily swayed by advertising that features cute animals and babies and, often, by the imploring eyes of my own little boy.
Sometimes I’m completely oblivious to the fact that I’m even being influenced at all, particularly by my son. I’ve caught myself catering to his whims on several occasions, despite promising that, when the time came, I’d be a strict but fair parent.
But those were pre-parent imaginings. Little did I know a year ago that, for all the advice there is out there about how to be a positive but strict influence on your children, it’s a very different story once they’ve arrived. More likely, they are the ones influencing you! And they seem to learn very quickly how to get what they want… a cute smile, a cuddle. How do you resist?
That’s not to say that I let him run amok. There are of course times – usually involving fingers in plugholes, or running with scissors, or some other dangerous feat that he’s decided to perform – when I do influence him. Sometimes quite loudly! At these times, I’m in control; I have the power to pick him up and away from danger and, most importantly, to teach him what he can and can’t do. This might mean he might not like me for a while, which is sometimes very hard to deal with (and listen to), but ultimately it’s my job as a parent to show him where the boundaries lie.
This gets harder to do as they grow up. Parental influence seems to disappear almost entirely, especially when they reach teenager status… unless, of course, pocket money’s involved. You’re no longer the center of their world. Instead, you’re just a bystander… and possibly a taxi service. You’re no longer cool or phat or whatever the terminology is nowadays. Whatever the word is…you don’t know it and, even if you did, you wouldn’t know what it means.
Instead of having parental influence, you are hurled into a world where social media, TV, peer pressure, and fashion magazines all appear to have greater power to persuade your child to think, feel and do things than you do. A scary world indeed, and one which you, unfortunately, can’t seem to get a grasp on, no matter how much you try! Social media alone keeps me up at night when I think of the influence it might have on my son as he grows up.
Right now I consider myself lucky that the teenage years are still far enough away for me not have to worry too much. At the moment, I’m the dominant one in our relationship, and I have the ability to influence him. Of course, I hope, as every parent does, to be a good influence. Sometimes strict, sometimes kind, sometimes with a cuddle. I’ll exert my influence in a variety of ways.
Our quiz on what type of influence you exert on others explores this subject further. You can use it to find out what type of influencer you are. For example, do you prefer to influence by referring to hard facts? Do you like to give direct orders? Or do you, like me, prefer a more friendly approach? Find out more by taking our quiz here.