Social change agents work to make an impact in the world on a local and global level. The impact they make depends on how many people they can influence to think and act in ways similar to them. To be effective at social change, an agent must be excellent at influencing others. Let’s look at six things social change agents do to influence others.
Most people are hesitant about any type of change—except when the change benefits them. As Dr. Dean Gualco explains in a Walden Social Change Series webinar, “Anytime you change something, you have to think about how it’s going to benefit somebody else—and that is what you promote.” He gives the example of doubling someone’s pay. That is a change most people would welcome, even if they claim they don’t like change. As Dr. Gualco puts it, “Change is almost always accepted when people see that it is in their best interest to change.”1 Social change agents do a great job of showing how change will benefit others.
During another Walden Social Change Series webinar, Dr. Henry Brashen asked the audience the most important thing someone could do to influence another person. While there were many answers, the one Dr. Brashen highlighted was listening. He noted that when you want to influence someone, the most important thing you should do is take a step back and listen. He explained that others gravitate toward people who listen. This allows the listener to engage in what is important to the talker.2 Effective social change agents draw people to them simply by listening.
To influence others, a social change agent must have a clear vision and message. People who waver or are inconsistent in their message drive others away rather than influence them.3 Having a clear vision and communicating it consistently is a great way social change agents influence others.
Social change agents are highly aware of what is happening around them and use that as a tool to influence others.4 Change agents tend to notice things other don’t, which helps them determine what needs to be changed and how the change will occur.
Social change agents must be fearless. Change agents often face rejection and ridicule, but how they deal with setbacks separates them from others.5 An effective change agent is fearless and does not let rejection keep them down. Their passion can be contagious and can actually influence others. Social change agents are effective because they don’t give up and their determination is influential to others.
For a social change agent to have influence, they must also have something someone wants. If they don’t, they won’t be influential. As Dr. Gualco put it in his presentation on social change, you have to figure out what people want. “If you have it, you have influence,” he says. Whom the change agent is trying to influence will determine what will be enough to have influence.1 To influence a superior, you must have something more important than if you were influencing a subordinate. Social change agents are successful at influencing others because they know they have something someone else wants and use that to influence others.
We can all work to create social change and make a difference where we live, where we work, and in the lives of those around us. Walden University takes social change seriously and tries to instill the virtue in all of its students, whether by designing curriculum to foster positive social change or by encouraging the Walden community to donate their time and expertise. If social change is important to you, an online degree program from Walden can be a great way to advance your education and make a positive impact.
Social change agents work to make the world a better place. They use many tools to influence others to make a positive impact as well. From listening and being aware, to being fearless and having a clear vision, there are many ways social change agents influence others.
Walden University is committed to fostering social change. An accredited institution, Walden offers a number of degree programs for working professionals. With Walden, you can earn your degree while making a positive impact in your community.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.