Positive Influence doesn’t mean being Toxically Positive

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Many people try to be a positive influence on those around them. I’ve encountered far too many people who have interpreted that to mean they need to always be positive. And try to help me to be more positive. That may not have been their intention. But as my mother used to say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Being a positive influence doesn’t mean being toxically positive.

Meet them where they are, not where you want them to be

Positive influence is another aspect of applied emotional intelligence. (You can find more blogs in this series here.) It’s something we apply more one to one than to a group. The central concept is to make sure you’re not projecting your shit onto someone else. Here are a few simple features necessary to being a positive influence:

  • Be present and engage in empathetic listening
  • Demonstrate genuine curiosity about what the other person is feeling
  • Use body language to ensure you’re sending the message you intend
  • Step back and reflect on ways to meet the other person where they are

Start small

Think of someone with whom you’d like to improve the quality of your relationship through applying these techniques. Who comes to mind? A colleague? Friend? Child? Partner? Once you’ve identified someone specific, brainstorm ideas about how you could apply the techniques listed above. Being thoughtful about our actions puts us in the best position to be able to do something different. Just remember—being a positive influence doesn’t mean being toxically positive. Be there for them in the way that’s best for them; not just for you.

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