Why you need to know the impact you have on others


The impact you have on others can dramatically affect your ability to function effectively as a leader. The vast majority of people have no idea of their impact other people – absolutely no idea.

Your impact is how you make other people feel.It’s  created by the way you look, by the way you talk and listen, by the way you respond, by your physical presence, even by what people have heard about you. You can impact people when you’re standing next to them, when you’re talking to them on the phone, or when you’re a thousand kilometres away. Impact happens in a million subtle and not-so subtle ways.

That’s only half the story. Half of how you impact other people resides within the other people themselves. You impact different people in different ways, even though you, yourself, are the same. One person may find you dynamic and inspiring, while the next may find those same qualities intimidating and insincere. By trying to understand how you impact others, you will learn much about yourself and about relationships that will make you a better leader – and a better person.

Most people have a picture of themselves that is quite unlike the picture that other people have of them. You might not believe this is true for you, but you need to check it out. What kind of an impact do you think you have on other people? How does this compare with the kind of impact you’d like to have? And, finally, how do you really impact other people from their perspective?

Consider your responses to the following:

  1. What kind of impact would you like to have on other people?
  2. List3 people you’d like to have a better understanding of your impact on. As a guideline, select one person from your personal life, one from your work life that you have “satisfactory or better” relationship with, and one from your work life that you have “less than satisfactory” relationship with.
  3. For each person, first describe how you think you impact them and why.

To answer the next questions, you can’t just think about it. You can’t imagine what people think or feel, or “put yourself in their shoes.” You have to actually ask people what they think. You have to make it safe for them to tell you what they truly feel. This may take some time, so be patient. And, perhaps the most difficult thing of all, you must be willing to hear things you don’t want to hear.

You may be shocked by what some people tell you. You may feel hurt, or angry, or completely misunderstood. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. You can’t ask people what they really feel, and then get angry or defensive when they tell you. The goal here is simply “information gathering.” Remember, you’ll hear a lot of positive things that you may not have known about yourself too. Consider what people tell you as objective information that you will collect, consider and use to get a better understanding of how people see you and why they react to you the way they do.

  1. Ask each person to describe for you how you actually impact them. Write down what they say, using their exact words.  Don’t argue with them or try to explain why they’re impressions are wrong or what your real intentions are.  Just gather information.
  2. How does your actual impact on others compare with what you imagined it was?
  3. What did you discover about yourself?
  4. What impacts were you satisfied with?
  5. What impacts were you not satisfied with ?

How will you use what you’ve discovered so that your impact on others is the way you really want it to be?  Create a plan for how you will improve your impact.Here are three techniques you can use:

1.Ask people to tell you the impact you’re having on them “in the moment.”

2.When you sense other people’s discomfort, ask them how they’re feeling and why.

3.Explain to people why you’re thinking, feeling and behaving the way you are.


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