Impact Happens – But Not Always As Expected!

You always have an impact, whether you know it or not.

When you talk to your boss, a colleague, your staff, a client, a prospect, a vendor … you have an impact.

When you actively participate in a meeting, or hunch over your smartphone texting or checking email, or sit back and quietly observe … you have an impact.

When you smile, frown, flinch, laugh, raise your eyebrows, fidget, look confused, or grin joyfully … you have an impact.

When you walk into the office with optimistic, cranky, anxious, or happy energy … you have an impact.

Ya see where I’m going with this? 😉 

Raising your antennae helps you change your impact.

We all get distracted, absorbed in our thoughts, or focused on our own “stuff.” And we all have days when we feel just a little bit off, if not downright cranky. That’s normal.

And unless you live alone in a cave, you’ll have an unintended impact … if you don’t pay attention.

You fidget in a meeting, and pretty soon it’s a herculean task for the rest of the group to tune out your squirminess.

You’re quieter than normal, and your kids or staff start worrying it’s something to do with them.

You show up at choir practice unusually manic, and pretty soon so is everyone else.

You’re uncharacteristically snappish when your favorite barista messes up your order, and he feels lousy all day, having no idea you’d had a dreadful morning.

Even if you’re a considerate person (and I know you are :-)), it’s all too easy to be oblivious when your mind is elsewhere.

With increased awareness, however, you’ll catch yourself … either before you have an unintended impact, or in time to correct course.

Four steps align your actual impact with your intended impact

Hit the pause button … briefly. Before you have a conversation, click “send” on an email, sit down for dinner with your family, or fly into a meeting, stop for a moment, take a few breaths, and get present.

Be intentional. Now that you’re focused on this moment and this interaction, get clear on your intention. How do you want the person across from you to experience the conversation? What tone do you want to convey in your email? How do you want to show up at dinner? What energy are you bringing into the meeting? The clearer you are about your intention, the more likely your actions, words, and energy will be in alignment.

Notice your impact.  Be aware of others’ body language and facial expressions. Are you getting blank stares, or nods of comprehension? Did everyone just get unexpectedly quiet, or jump into the conversation with enthusiasm? There are hundreds of clues about the impact you’re having – when you pay attention.

Clean up the unintended results of your impact. It’s surprisingly simple to resolve in the moment. Just be honest and take responsibility for the impact you just had. For example, “Judging from your baffled looks, I don’t think my explanation was clear. Let me try again.” Or “Can you tell me what you just heard? I suspect that what I said didn’t come out the way I intended.”

You have the power to influence your world … one impact at a time. Be intentional. Practice awareness. Take responsibility. And you’ll be amazed at what a difference you’ll make.

“No matter where you are, who you are with, or what you are doing, you are leading and someone is following.  It’s pretty scary, but every person you meet, know and have known, and even those that know you only by reputation, are influenced through your actions.” 

~ David Cottrell


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