We all have those moments when you wish you could swallow up the words that just came out of your mouth and press rewind on the conversation. You had not meant it to come out like that…
In our last blog we talked about how your words have the power to make a big impact on someone’s life. So how do you maximise the positive and minimise the negative impact your words and actions have on the lives of those around you?
A great place to start is to avoid the things that have a negative impact. The simplest and most certain way to avoid doing any harm is to do nothing. But surely that is not the answer and often leads to missed opportunities. Imagine if doctors or paramedics lived by this rule, many lives would be unnecessarily lost. While conversations may not often be life and death, they similarly offer up the choice to get your hands dirty and to take ownership over making a difference to someone’s life.
So how can the Four Toolkits for life help you in your quest to amplify the positive ripples you are creating on a daily basis?
The Identity Lens – who am I?
- Do you ask questions and listen deeply?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses in communicating with others? (Empathy / Disinterest; Listening deeply / Interrupting; Patience / Impatience; Calm and relaxed / Agitated and rushed; Open mind / Closed mind)
- How you can build on those strengths and minimise the cost of your weaknesses?
- What mindsets do you bring into your relationships and daily conversations?
"I am having this conversation with you because...."
- I really care about you and your life
- I want to help make a positive impact your life
- I want to learn more about you and your story
- I am ticking boxes
- I don’t know why
- I want to convince you that I am right
The Opportunity Lens
- Try to be curious in conversation and look for the aspects of the story you don’t yet know. You can never know the full story so look for alternative opinions, blind spots and additional facts that can help to create a shared sense of ownership over what is going on.
- Try to avoid stating your opinion as fact
- If you are in a position of power or people are coming to you for advice, what is the most useful thing you can offer? Think deeply as we often mistake this to be advice, when in fact someone may just need to feel heard and supported. Is this a really formative period when people are open to influence, a really tough period when they are searching for something to cling to, something to give them hope or something to calm them, or are they seeking objectivity, decisions, actions, constructive input or recognition of the hard work they have put in?
- What extra opportunities do you have in your day to make a positive impact on those around you? Some of our ideas include:
- Leave a secret love note for your partner
- Tell your friend why you value them out of the blue
- Write an encouraging letter to someone in your team
- Go out of your way to help someone
- Take someone out to lunch that you feel needs support in your team and try to learn one of their strengths or a secret success stories and watch them light up
- Picking your kids up from school or surprising them in an unusual way
The Impact Lens
- How do you work smarter not harder with the way others communicate and understand your signals? Do you need to be clear with someone and softer with another? To the extent you are capable of doing so, can you aim to bring what they need?
- Can you impact and shape the context in which you send the Signal or have the interaction? Do you need a quiet place or a safe environment away from the team? Do you need to be on a walk or doing an activity with your kids? Should you sort out the issue before you fall asleep?
- If it is a time when you know someone is coming to you for help, can you prepare thoughtfully?
The Sustainability Lens
- Look after yourself – or your ability to send out positive ripples will be impaired
- Be yourself – lack of authenticity dampens the ripples
- Walk your talk – words not followed by aligned deeds soon become ineffective.
- Can you think of an instance in the week ahead where the signals you send out will be VIP? (A group meeting? A one-on-one session with a team member or peer? A difficult family situation? Your regular arrival home from work to a busy household or tired partner?)
- Which of your strengths/mindsets will be significant then?
- How will you maximise the positive impact?
- How will you ensure that it is sustained?