Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Kind of Impact Do You Have on Others?

I was working at my desk when my business partner Paula walked into my office. She was visibly shaken and her face was red. She had just gotten off the phone with a salesman who was trying to book an appointment for one of their reps to see her about our 401(k) plan.

Paula tried to explain to him that we were happy with our current plan, and she was not interested in considering other options. Instead of thanking her for her time and moving on to a more promising prospect, he kept pushing and trying to convince her that she should take just twenty minutes to meet with this person. He was aggressive and rude. Finally, Paula told him she was going to hang up, and she did.

I’m always studying people, including myself, to learn more about how we react to different people and circumstances. What struck me in this situation is the change that happened in Paula in a matter of minutes.

Before the call, she had been her normal cheery, calm self; but after she got off the phone, she was agitated and angry. Another human being had transferred his negative, antagonistic disposition to this typically sweet person. And it took her a good half hour to calm down.

So what’s the point here?

Everything about how you think and behave counts. Never underestimate the potential your attitudes, words, and actions have for doing harm or doing good…to others and to yourself.

This exchange was brief, so the impact on Paula was short-term. But what if she lived or worked every day with someone who took this kind of approach to interacting with others? What toll might that take on her sense of self-worth and the way she treated others?

On the other hand, if you’re shown respect, consideration, and thoughtfulness, you’re more likely to respond in kind.

Whether you’re a leader, a teacher, a parent, or a coworker, what you say and do affects those around you. The question is, what kind of impact are you having?

One indicator is the way others interact with you. Notice how open and honest they’re willing to be with you. Are they confident that you will welcome and appreciate their feedback and ideas? Or do they hold back because they’ve experienced negative, defensive reactions from you in the past?

Every day you have the opportunity to impact someone else’s life. Why not be deliberately proactive about finding ways that build them up so the ripple effect is a positive one?


  1. I couldn't agree with you more. As an NLP Coach and a trainer of communication skills I constantly work with people who are unaware of the short or long term effect that their words may have on other people. Many of us have memories of a cruel remark that someone may have made when we are a child that still hurts. It's no different when you're an adult. As an adult you may say to yourself 'rise above it, it doesn't matter' but then find it still bothers you. All of use need to be aware of what we say and how we say it.

  2. Not missing self awareness and self management helps prove empathetic without harming social and professional relatioship with external people or stakeholder.


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