Recently, I had the chance to lead from the stage at the annual WELCOA Summit.
One of the solutions I offer to employees is the power of their own influence. The way we show up in any given situation often times changes the way other people show up. There is a lot of research that supports this. Feel free to message me to learn more about the science.
So, here I am, an industry leader in front of 500 people, and I had the most profound experience of influence right in my own home, offered up by my eight year old. I thought I would share it here, because it is a great example of the power of our own influence.
When my kids skin their knee or bump their head or smash their finger, they come to me with those big tears, in a state of hysterics that allows for no executive functioning in the prefrontal cortex of the brain (the part of the brain that allows us to be reasonable and logical). I simply and empathetically say, “oh, I know. That is the worst when <insert whatever happened> happens.” I’ve also used this when their friends were jerks, because little kids are figuring out how to behave and sometimes they are jerks to each other and it momentarily sucks.
I have always known this was one of my best parenting tactics. I would love to say that it is because I am brilliant at empathy, and sometimes I am, but this tactic also keeps from solving every little thing that is remotely upsetting that makes its way into my kids’ lives. Turns out, a lot of times (not always, but a lot of times), they just need to know you heard them and care and then they can take care of the thing they are struggling with all on their own.
So there we were, eating dinner together as a family. Earlier in the day my husband bit his lip. While he was eating dinner, he kept re-injuring it. As his wife I wanted to be like, “for the love of God, this is the fourth time, maybe slow your chewing or something.” I wanted to be like this because sometimes adults are jerks to each other, too.
At that very moment, my eight year old daughter said, “Dad! What is happening?!” He told her. And she said, “Oh dad, that is the worst. I hate when that happens.”
And I recognized it as soon as it came pouring out of her mouth, because her tone and inflection were exactly like mine. AND I WAS BEAMING!!
I patted myself on the back for setting a good example of empathy in my household. There are a lot of things I get wrong, but I am an Elite Warrior Master at empathy. It occurred to me – I am influencing the behavior in my household. It goes beyond just a good example. There is something different about influence compared to a good example. Influence occurs when we are in relationship with people. Influence occurs because of our desire to be connected to people, to belong with them. Influence is powerful. Influence is often exploited by people who know the power of connection and use it to their advantage. Most of us just care to be good people and live in relationship with other good people. We don’t really think about the power of that connection. This is why it’s really, really important for the rest of us to start considering it. What if we were to start using our social capital for good?
What if you started to realize that your co-worker is facing his or her own amount of uncertainty and fear and stress and uphill battle? What if you started to realize that your co-worker wants to belong and feel comfortable with their work relationships, too?
Here is the beauty of influence – I don’t need you to be trained in the art of the deal (insert eye roll) or the art of manipulation. I need you to offer the best of your own inherent goodness to those around you.
It is not okay to yell at people in the workplace. It is not okay to name call in the workplace. It is not okay to throw temper tantrums in the workplace. Remember all the things that were expected of you in elementary school? Those expectations are set early for a reason. They are meant to carry through. I know you didn’t mean it when you lost your cool at the lady in the cube next to you. But, I also know that you need to say sorry and try not to do that again.
I need you to find someone in your workplace that you can go to when you are in the grip of workplace crud who will say, “yes, that is the worst. I am sorry that happened to you.” The reason that is so important is because then you can remember your own belovedness and belonging and reset to offer that to the person that has made you so upset.
Now, one last important consideration: if you show up as a good and decent person and try to do your best over and over again, and someone or several people yell at you or call you names or belittle you in meetings or throw temper tantrums in your face, you should leave that job. That is not a safe or healthy place for any human being to work.
Here is the point. Influence is a powerful tool to change the way we show up and live into healthy relationships in the workplace.
If you begin to offer your own best self in belonging to others, you might just influence the way they choose to show up, too.
If you are the person in your company who is in charge of leading this kind of organizational development, or culture, or wellness – call me and I can come alongside you and help develop this change, too.