Influence is the ability to have an impact on the thoughts, behaviors, and values of an individual. It can involve persuading someone to change their beliefs, convincing them to take a certain action, or inspiring them to adopt a new perspective or way of thinking. Influence can be exercised through various means, such as communication, leadership, or personal example. It can be exercised by individuals or groups, and it can be intentional or unintentional. The degree of influence that someone has may depend on various factors, such as their position, expertise, charisma, or relationships with others. Influence can be a powerful tool for achieving goals and bringing about change, and it is often an important aspect of leadership and personal development. The following are common types of influence.
The systems, norms and shared meaning of a nation or civilization. Society refers to the systems that allow for peaceful coexistence in a place. As such, membership is defined by where you live. Society sets out a complete system for life that has a large impact on how people think.
Culture are systems of norms and shared meaning that often have far more flexible membership than society. An individual may belong to multiple traditional cultures, subcultures and super cultures. For example, a sport such as soccer represents a super culture that spans many societies. As with society, culture is a strong form of influence as people may identify with a culture and be open to its ideas.
People commonly think using language. As such, learning a second language has a large influence on your ideas and viewpoint. The potent influence of language leads governments, organizations and groups to attempt to shape or control language as a means of influence. For example, propaganda may attempt to introduce new phrases or ban old ones.
Word of Mouth
People are influenced by things they hear from other people. This can occur even if they have no social connection to the person. For example, being influenced by a speaker at a conference.
Family & Friends
People with whom you form bonds are a primary influence.
People who you interact with in your daily life such as coworkers or neighbors.
People with much social status may have influence over others. For example, fame and authority amplifies an individual’s influence.
Cultural capital is the ability to influence others in the context of a culture. For example, a brilliant engineer may have influence over other engineers but may have virtually no influence beyond engineering culture.
Persuasion is the ability to influence others. Methods of persuasion are well developed with hundreds of widely known approaches and techniques. Persuasion is essentially a social skill that allows an individual to increase their influence over others.
Documented or communicated knowledge. In many cases, an idea spreads because it is insightful and useful.
Education and learning are a means to spread knowledge and build skills including social skills. An education system, school, teacher or classmate can have a large influence on an individual.
An experience or collection of experiences. For example, surfing may teach an individual about risk and reward.
Individuals may be shaped by their profession. For example, an author may become more creative over the course of their career or an accountant may become more systematic and disciplined in their thinking with each decade that passes in the job.
Storytelling such as books or myths commonly influence individuals, society and culture. For this reason, fiction can become reality.
Media offers information, knowledge, persuasion, entertainment, storytelling, interaction and sensation. This is a fundamental pathway of influence in an modern society.
Advertising is media that pays for access to an audience. This is designed to influence. For example, an ad may seek to influence a customer to buy. Alternatively, advertising may be designed to create brand recognition and positive feelings about a brand.
Media that is designed to sell a political agenda. The term propaganda suggests aggressive approaches to influence that represent heavily biased sources of information.
Art & Music
Art and music represent powerfully emotional and vivid experiences that have significant influence.