People become leaders because they want to have an impact. But how do you know what type of impact you're having and how do you measure it? How do you strengthen the alignment between the impact you intended to have, and more importantly, how do you show up when that impact has been harmful?
This past year has had life-altering impacts on us all, and leaders have been challenged to adapt and support their families, teams and communities through it. Your awareness of and ability to describe impact is a key foundational skill. We'll be looking at both how to describe how something has impacted you, and in a later post we'll look at becoming more aware of your impact on others.
Start with the same self-awareness skills from the last post. Practice describing the impact someone's words or actions have had on you. Cultivate this skill so you can describe how something has impacted you both after the fact, and in the moment it is occurring.
Deepen your practice by reflecting on the following questions:
If this is newer for you, try sharing impact once a day for the next week. You can also start with expressing positive impact (as we could all use some uplifting feedback these days). If you need a script, try this out...
"Hi (name) are you open to me sharing some positive feedback? (If yes...) When you (behavior), I felt (emotions). It helped me (thoughts, behaviors or desires). As a result, I will (behaviors)."
"Hi readers! When you leave a comment on my posts I get really excited to know folks are having curious conversations about my blog. It helps me feel more heard and valued in these physically distanced times, and encourages me to continue to share knowing I'm making a difference."
Communicating impact is neither a compliment or corrective feedback. It's about informing another person about how their actions have impacted you. (And in a future post, developing an awareness about how you are impacting others).
Sharing impact can be a long conversation with a team member or a quick passing moment with a mail delivery person. It can be deep and challenging, such as describing the impact white supremacy culture has had on you... or, it can be telling your local barista that it's a bright spot in your day when they make your coffee exactly the way you like it.
There's no need for a strict vocabulary to express yourself. At a time when most of our interactions are virtual, emojis and gifs can make this a little more fun and creative. When we struggle to find the words to express ourselves, art and images can help.
Remember to consider "all your relations," including your relationship with the weather, music, the air, the landscape, your ancestors, the colors you decorate with, the shows you watch, etc. If you enjoy a hot shower, have a favorite pen, or love taking a walk in a specific area then you're experiencing impact and are in relationship with something around you.
The past year has had a monumental impact on us as individuals, families, workplaces, communities and nations. We've had many aggravating and polarizing conversations. Move slowly and gently through acknowledging the impact that has been harder. It is common to put up walls of protection, Practice gratitude as you explore the ways you've been positively impacted by others. Practice restorative trust-building when impact has been negative.
After you've made sharing impact a habit for a couple weeks, reflect on how it has changed your relationships. We start by practicing awareness of how others have impacted us because it makes it easier to listen when others give us feedback about how we have impacted them.