Silent Influencer / by Pleasant Folk

Baltimore to Dallas, 2015

Baltimore to Dallas, 2015

Over the years, I have noticed my ability to influence others and until now it bothered me. My influence is often silent and subconscious in its effect on others. Now, I understand how important it is to be a silent influencer and to effect positive change in the lives of others.

What is a silent influencer? I could have easily called it the reluctant influencer. It is a term I have coined to describe people that create positive ripples wherever they go without necessarily wanting to or trying. A person who leaves a lasting mark in the heart of others without trying. Their influence spreads like butterflies or dandelion seeds on the wind. Humans are animals and it is natural for animals to take silent cues from one another. A better world can literally be created because of people like you and your silent, humble influence.

Other people mimicking you is the first sign that you are a silent influencer. You don’t need to have one million social media followers to catch the attention of impressionable people. Imitation means you are being used as a template for someone else’s life. They may not do this intentionally, but there is something about the way you live your life with confidence and integrity that people admire.

Competition is another way that other people may react to your influence. They may see the things you posses or the accomplishments you have made as a ruler with which to measure their own success. Most of the time they did not know they wanted these things until they saw you with them! Achieving what you have already accomplished helps them feel accomplished themselves. Sometimes, the people who laugh at you are the first to mimic you, so these two categories can go hand in hand many times.

Seeking out your attention is one way people confirm if they are mimicking you correctly on a subconscious level. It can also be a way to check on the status of their competition with you. Either way, these people desire close proximity to you because it keeps your influence on hand. You may be suspicious of these connections as fake, shallow, or deceitful and you are right to be cautious.

Now, being a silent influencer is a thankless job and one you probably did not ask to hold. It can be emotionally draining and lead to anger, depression, mistrust or other emotions as a result of feeling used. Many times the people who are influenced by you are actually jealous or lost as a result of feeling insecure in themselves. They need a leader and they are turning to you. Do not expect to be credited with or thanked for the ideas and actions that you influence in other people. This is where the term ‘silent’ (and ‘reluctant’) comes into play. But, continue to live your life with boldness and originality and stay true to yourself.

Protecting yourself and recharging is extremely important because the truth is your ability to silently influence others will never shut off. It will stay with you for life and learning to cope with this soft super power is essential to your own mental and physical well being.

-Deflect the influence away from yourself by mentioning another source. For example, suggest a blog, magazine, celebrity, or book that contains similar information or ideas.

-Start your own blog! Most people who have one million instagram followers have probably already figured out how to channel their outward influence. But, even if you have a private blog and two followers you now have documentation of your ideas, accomplishments, and actions. This will help you feel put back together when other people want to pick off pieces of you for themselves. You can also suggest people check out your blog to reduce the day to day exhaustion of their demands.

-If the attention is really bothering you, confront the person with compassion and tell them how their behavior is uncomfortable and unwanted. A common response is to place the blame on you by trivializing your feelings. Try to keep the conversation away from literal mentions of feelings and about evidence and behavior.

-Keep people at a distance and allow them to admire you from afar. Do not divulge personal information to them, just allow them to observe from a distance. Pay close attention to warning signs that other people in the ‘competition’ category are not trying to sabotage your well being in an effort to win their own imaginary games. If you suspect this is happening, document the incidents and collect any tangible evidence then report it to management or an authority figure. Even if nothing can or will be done, performing your due diligence will always make you the bigger person.

-If all else fails, and if possible, cut that person from your life entirely. Avoid their physical presence and cease all communication. You should not be drained of your personality or sanity for the sake of someone else.

-Seek alone time to generate the things that influence other people the most. A simple example: if your clothes are always a source of envy, imitation, and competition that means you are a style influencer. So, try going shopping alone or online. This will reduce the stress of impressionable people demanding your attention, mimicking your choices, or competing with you while you shop together.

-While impressionable people may find their way to you, it is possible to make your way towards others. Try engaging with people who are completely opposite from you on the surface and you may discover you have a lot in common at the core. Your differences will allow you to bond in a deeper way because both of you have established identities and interests.

I hope this helps you understand your special place in the world!