With the new year coming up many of us want to encourage people to be open to things we are passionate about, and for those on here that's probably sustainability. However there are ways in which one has to approach influencing others, especially on sustainability, for it to work best. I've said this before but me living sustainably won't make any difference to the environment, what will however is the collective effort of many people living sustainably. Which is why I have a blog; I started this to spreading the word on how you can live gentler on this earth. In doing so, and in living this lifestyle in general, I've learnt a thing or two on how to talk about it to others with the best results.
What's important when you want to influence others on something you are passionate about is to remain realistic, and always assume they will not feel as intensely as you do about it. If you lecture people about what to do and go on about how much better the decisions you make are, they won't feel inclined to listen to you, let alone consider following in your steps. In fact being incredibly militant about your beliefs often times will discourage people from taking you seriously, which of course when it comes to sustainability is the opposite effect one wants, as this is a serious issue which is going to drastically affect the future of this planet and our society.
When it comes to close friends and family, if they are supportive of you, they are generally the ones that will try things out simply because they want you to be happy. Say that means making a couple of zero waste swaps but not necessarily going into the research themselves or immersing themselves in said communities. With these people who are close to us what I've learned I need to manage are my expectations. We expect more from people who mean a lot to us, but if you allow them to develop at their own pace they can develop their own opinions and make the changes that are realistic for them; If we expect too much people may feel they are unable to provide and want to give up making any changes at all.
Ultimately I reckon the most successful and welcoming approach to influencing those around you is to lead by example. If we discuss a topic too much it can become quite abstract, and for others who don't care as much as you do about a it, possibly boring and annoying as well. Instead, if you simply live the way you choose to and gently show the benefits it has to you, overtime the people around you may be interested to try elements of it out. For the environment that may mean it becomes less about the environment and a sustainable future (abstract) and more about financial gain, simplicity, natural living etc. Showing people how it can be done but letting them make their own decisions about what they may or may not be interested in gives them power and choice, which makes a huge difference in these changes being sustainable long-term. When we are passionate about something, and I'm definitely like this, we can be incredibly intense about it. But, when discussing something such as sustainability which has an importance far beyond us as individuals, one has to accept that not everyone will feel as connected to our planet or as driven when it comes to activism as us, and that's okay. Be kind, non-judgemental, and open to ensure that you influence people in the most welcoming and effective way possible.