Is Influence a Bad Word? 6

The more I chat with my peers, the more I receive strong feedback about the word, “influence.”  In a few conversations, it’s been pointed out that although we all want to know the secret of gaining influence, no one wants to talk about influence.  Of course, we would never walk around saying, “I’m an influencer.” Then, we’re really feeding into an ego system rather than a social ecosystem.

However, looking at influence from a different standpoint…don’t we want people to trust us?  Don’t we want to have the strongest relationships with community members and finally, don’t we want to help peers make decisions, because they believe in our honesty, integrity and value our opinions.  If influence was named something different, then would it be perceived differently? I wrote a post last August, “Social Media is Serious Business,” regarding the negative connotation around “Social Media.” I discussed removing the word “social,” to see if more companies would be on board sooner with their engagement. So, for example, rather than saying social media we’d call it strategic digital media.  Perhaps that would have changed the C-Suite mindset.

What would happen if we changed the word influence and named it something else? Would it still be seen as a bad word that carries a negative connotation?  Perhaps, we’d call it your trust factor or your characteristic rating.  Regardless of what we call influence, it is a powerful factor, well beyond what any number can capture.  In many cases, influence gets a bad rap. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I want to grow influence (both for my peers and personally) for the right reasons.  Because, when you grow influence, everyone wins; communities grow stronger, there’s more knowledge passed between members and more people benefit from the help they receive.

Now that you’ve heard both sides of the story, please weigh in to let me know how you feel about influence.  Do you think it’s a bad word with a negative connotation and something we should keep in check? Or, is influence something that should be a focus and we should nurture it to help one another?

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