Are you a positive or a negative influence?

Fred Cavaiani

Have you ever talked to someone on the phone and felt you were being treated in an uncaring manner? The other person's voice sounded so boring and disinterested that you may have felt diminished or even rejected. Have you ever met a waiter who tried to act friendly but without smiling? I remember seeing a security guard at a well-known professional building. Those who entered the building had to pass him each time as he sat at his desk in the public entrance to the building. He did not know how to smile at all. His face was perpetually frozen into a blank stare. There was no way to read what he was feeling or if he was interested in helping a guest who was new to the building. A new person coming to this office building would not feel welcomed. This first impression would be negative.

Most of us are quickly turned off when someone doesn't smile at us after we have greeted them. Talking to someone who doesn't smile can be a real downhill journey. Likewise the sound of a person's voice, which can either lift us up or cause us to feel a bit down. Some people over the phone can sound depressed or downright crabby. Those same people when talking to us personally with a smile on their face can overcome their own liability of having a boring voice. Yet if they knew the power of a cheerful voice they could even intensify their positive influence on us.

We can easily turn people off if our whole tone or affect seems crabby or disinterested. Yet we can easily promote a positive and warm feeling when we look them in the eye, greet them with a smile and a warm voice. It is so easy but it can be so neglected so much of the time.

Each of us easily can fall into a rut where our concern for the people around us becomes minimal and pushed to the bottom of our concerns. When we lack warmth or interest in relating with others we can negatively affect how they feel toward us and actually have a negative impact on their day. When we greet people with warmth we can become a stimulus for positive energy, an upbeat attitude and a belief that there is goodness all around us.

It is so easy to help another person have more hope in life. Some people walk through life and become friendly only to get something out of another person or to "convert" another person to their "way of thinking." Salespeople, politicians, and even clergy can easily fall into this manipulative way of relating. We can do the same. If the other person isn't listening to what we are selling or trying to persuade them to become, we then can become distant or preoccupied with other things. We have just given the other person a message that our interest in him or her is really quite superficial and in fact not very loving or sincere.

It is really quite simple to create a positive attitude in another person. But it is important to realize that it is also easy to create a negative feeling in another person. These are simple truths which we too often neglect because they are so simple.

We can make life better for everyone around us with a warm voice, a kind gaze and a caring smile. We can make life a bit more miserable for other people by a disinterested look, a frozen face, and an indifferent or cold greeting.

Turn the world on to feeling a little more loved by your warm gaze, your energetic and loving tone of voice and your warm greeting. Become a messenger of hope by sending a message of warmth and compassion. Happy children are raised by happy, smiling parents. A happy country can happen when citizens make the effort to be happy, loving and kind toward others. The wounds of life can be overcome by the effort to be smiling, kind and loving. The negativity of life can grab hold of us when we stop making the effort to smile, greet others kindly, and smile in a warm and caring manner. When I reach out in love to others I begin to acquire the capacity to embrace my own wounds with a more accepting attitude and I then discover that happiness and peace can be experienced by embracing others with a loving attitude.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage and family therapist and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. Cavaiani conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. He can be reached at (248)362-3340. His e-mail address is and his website is

Published: Wed, Jun 17, 2015