When we were children, my brother was given a smiley face toast stamp (rather like this one). You just pressed it into the bread before toasting it and the stamped area would remain untoasted, leaving a white smiley face on your brown toast.
Just as the stamp left an impression on the bread, so we leave an impression on those we meet. What impression are we hoping to leave? Is our intention to leave people feeling motivated, inspired and raring to go? Do we want them to feel listened to, cared about and noticed?
Is that the impact of our words on others? Actually, it’s not just our words, is it? We’ve probably all had a conversation where the other speaker says one thing aloud but his body language or facial expressions say something completely different.
The impression we leave on others is cyclical. If I arrive at my desk after a frustrating meeting and then take out that frustration on my ‘innocent bystander’ colleagues, it’s fairly likely that I will have a negative impact on their moods and the way in which they react to me. Just as my behaviour left a poor impression on them despite them having nothing to do with my mood, it’s possible that they will then transfer that negativity to others.
What if things were different? What if having barked an irritable reply at a colleague, I suddenly realise that my frustration has nothing to do with her and I choose to break that cycle of behaviour before I’ve ruined her mood too? I apologise sincerely, she accepts my apology, the atmosphere immediately improves and we have a productive afternoon.
That sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Simple things aren’t necessarily easy though, are they?
Over the next few days, I’m going to try to remember that my attitude and behaviour has an effect on those around me. If things aren’t going well, I’m going to avoid the temptation to pass that on to the next person with whom I come into contact so I don’t create a cycle of discontent between us. If someone is a bit ‘off’ towards me, I’m going to choose to respond graciously. Most of all, I’m going to try to leave a positive impression.
Today’s pebble for you to ponder: What impression do you leave?
What do you think?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
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