The Ripple Effect of Our Actions

Post #2 in the “Simplify” blog post series.

If you are like most of the busy professionals I know, you will be facing a large pile of work in the coming week with limited time to get it all done in the confines of a typical workday.  You may feel rushed, stressed and even overwhelmed with the challenges of getting all of the job tasks completed, the pressures of working from home, being present for our families and loved ones and taking time for ourselves to recharge and regroup.  What I am describing is a daily grind that dramatically affects how we interact with others.  When busy, stressed and under time pressure, we may have a tendency to see our daily actions as existing in a vacuum that only involves us, our needs and our perspectives.

In last week’s post Creating Space, which was the first in my new “Simplify” blog post series, I addressed the need to create time for ourselves to pause, reflect, catch our breath and think before we act.  If we take the message of that post one step further, we can see the importance of considering not only our own needs, wants and perspectives, but also those of the person or people on the receiving end of our actions.  If we do not show up well or act with frustration, anger or concern for only our needs we can create a negative ripple effect in those experiencing us throughout the day.  Sometimes, not acting at all can have an adverse effect on others as well.  If we create space to be more thoughtful about what we say and do, we will more carefully consider:

How will they receive the email or text I am about to send or the call I am about to make?

Am I taking the time to actively listen to their perspective?

What is going on in their world?

What is their stress level and current workload?

Am I being clear in what I am asking of them?

How will my decision(s) affect the circles around me?  Have I carefully considered all the positive and negative ramifications?

If I am a leader, am I conveying hope and encouragement?  Am I seizing the moment to coach someone to perform better? 

Did my actions inspire someone to be and feel better…or worse?

Am I taking the time to ask how I can help?  What do they need from me most right now?

I will be the first to admit that I sometimes fall into the trap of focusing single-mindedly on getting work off my plate and checking items off my to-do lists, only to realize I could have done a better job of considering how I am impacting others.  When I follow my own advice from the Creating Space post, I am scheduling time between meetings that allows me to prepare and be more thoughtful about the needs of the other attendees.  I am scheduling specific time each day to get work done without distraction.  With more air on my calendar, I am calmer and less stressed overall which means I will choose my words more carefully in emails or texts.  I will be engaged and actively listening in my phone and video call conversations.  I will work harder at seeking answers to the important questions I shared in this post.

When we consider that there is a ripple effect resulting from all of our actions, we may be compelled to be more thoughtful and focused on the others we engage with each day.  We will stop living exclusively in our own world and start living more in theirs.  What if all of our actions towards others during the workday are filtered through the prism of courtesy, kindness, respect, empathy, compassion and gratitude?  Think of the positive impact we could make!  We are all capable of doing more of this if we slow down enough to consider it and simply make the commitment to do it.  If only one person is better off after they engage with us at the end of every day, the effort was absolutely worth it.

What will be the ripple effect of our actions today?


*Stay tuned for what’s next in the “Simplify” blog post series: “Doubling Down on Business Relationships”


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