Monitor your impact on others

Your mood affects others, whether you wish it to or not.  Strengthen your relationships by being aware of your impact on others.

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Why this matters

At some point, almost everyone experiences intense emotions, like stress, anger, fear, frustration or hurt. Our emotions can be contagious and spread through our actions, thoughts and words. The way we express our emotions can have a significant impact on others, affecting their mood and actions. For example, a smile can spread happiness, but slamming the door shut could spread frustration or fear. People who’re most likely to be impacted by your emotional state include those who:

  • Are already stressed
  • Fear your disapproval
  • Are experiencing depression or anxiety-related symptoms

Explore and reflect

Think of a situation in which you experienced stress, anger, fear, frustration or hurt. How did your thoughts, words and actions at this time impacted others?

  • What was the situation?
  • What emotion was I experiencing?
  • What was I thinking at this time?
  • What words did I use?
  • What body language and actions did I use?
  • How would I interpret the situation if I heard those words, saw that body language or saw those actions?
  • How might my thoughts, words and actions have been interpreted by those around me?
  • How might those interpretations have impacted those around me?
  • What I could have done differently?

An example of monitoring impact

This is how one manager monitored the impact of her emotions. She asked her team to describe how they knew she was stressed. Although hesitant to speak up, after encouragement, one team member said, “Well, you kind of make noises when you’re stressed.” 

The manager was quite surprised and asked what kind of noises she made.

Another team member said she often exhaled loudly in frustration or sat down and got up with intensity.

After thanking the team member for their honesty, the manager said she wasn’t aware she behaved this way when she was stressed. She asked the team members how her behaviour made them feel.

They replied they often felt her frustration or stress was because of something they did or didn’t do, so they became anxious themselves.

The manager asked why no one ever told her about this in the moment. They replied, “because you’re the boss.” The manager said, “It’s never my intention to stress you out. If you believe I have enough integrity to speak directly to you if you’ve made a mistake, then I’d like you to point out when I’m behaving this way. If you do point it out, I promise to respond with the following knowledge:

  • You’ve noticed my stress
  • My stress could be impacting you
  • You care about my well-being
  • You believe that once I’m aware, I can better manage my stress

The team chose the word “Breathe” to represent their consideration, care and concern for each other when one of them was stressed. Because of this agreement, they didn’t hear this word as a judgment. Instead, they heard it as support.

Take action

Ask a trusted friend or colleague to describe how you look and sound when you’re stressed. Ask which words or phrases you’re more likely to use when stressed.

Ask how they feel when you’re like this.

Consider how you might be more effective in monitoring and managing your impact on others.


Contributors include.articlesDr. Joti SamraMary Ann BayntonWorkplace Strategies team 2007-2021

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