This has happened to each of you. You write an innocent, innocuous memo and hit “send”. Boom!! A few days later all hell breaks loose. Now, in hindsight you realize the recipient interpreted your words much differently than what you intended.

In hindsight, had you considered the EMOTIONAL CONSEQUENCES, the way your intended party will or might interpret your actions or your memo, you’d have  realized the impact may be far different than what you intended. Re-reading your memo to consider the consequences of your words when taken both in and out of context could have avoided anxiety in the recipient or avoided some other problem.

This phenomenon happens so often in companies, it ought to be considered a pandemic! It stems from rushing, carelessness, lack of focus, bad assumptions, but especially from failing to understand, or to consider people’s emotional responses to your words and actions. Failure to adequately consider emotional reactions and consequences of your stakeholders, especially the impact from your authority, influence, and power, too often results in wasted precious and valuable company time.

Pay attention to the emotive power of your actions or your decisions to not act.

There is a law of mechanics–“for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.  When it comes to dealing with people, for every action, expect a reaction. For you, as leader and role model, remind yourself for every act there’s both a physical reaction or consequence and especially an emotional one. Control tomorrow’s reactions, tomorrow’s consequences, by what you do today:

  1. Focus on the task at hand.
  2. Pay attention to what you are doing.
  3. Be aware of the possible EMOTIONAL consequences from today’s decisions. 

Whatever you do, write, say, imply…or don’t…you affect the lives of those working around you. Like it or not, as a leader, as a manager, you are the role model for every person in your company. They feel your power and influence. They emulate you. You’re it. Make it emotionally satisfying for everyone working with or around you…all of your stakeholders.

I can’t urge you strongly enough to keep in mind that it is not just what you do, but what you don’t do that also matters.

I unwittingly ended up in a Human Resources mess because I walked by an employee to whom I neglected to smile and nod in acknowledgement. My mind was deeply immersed in a production line problem as I was returning to my office to make a number of urgent phone calls. CONSEQUENCE: That employ mistook my lack of response as a signal that that employee was going to be terminated. Despite the fact that, that employee consistently “Far Exceeded”.  My lesson becomes your lesson: You impact everyone in your entire company by your demeanor, by a nod, smile, comments, and any other form of messaging, or even by the absence of those actions.

I can think of nothing more appropriate for you as leader to remember than this particular quote:

“No man is an island…” ― John Donne.

No manager is an island!