I was reminded of this quote today when I had to share a favorite quote in an introduction slide for my new role. I had to look it up because I couldn’t remember the exact wording…
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
– Maya Angelou
As a supervisor, team leader and executive, I often get caught up in the self-inflicted need to say / do the right thing all of the time.
I hate confrontation, so whenever there’s a need for a difficult conversation, I work myself up a bit, worrying that I won’t say the right thing, that I’ll get challenged, that I will somehow fail or will lose the individual’s respect because I didn’t use big words or didn’t sound like an expert when I was talking. I worry that I won’t speak with authority, which will mean that I won’t be taken seriously. I worry that I won’t be able to answer all of the questions.
Actually, it’s not just confrontation, it’s starting a new job, being in a new role, meeting someone new… that need to be “on” all of the time – I have a knack for making myself crazy about this stuff.
One time I was talking to my Mom about my job and she said something like, “The hardest part about your job, even when you’re with your clients day in and day out, is the need to be “on” all of the time. You’ve been spending a lot of time with these people, traveling from place to place, they know you and they respect you, stop holding on to that pressure to be perfect.”
My Mom said this when I needed to hear it most.
In that moment, after I had slid off of an icy highway into a ditch, driving a client around in Iowa, I needed that reminder. I am human. It is OK. I had been driving slow. Cautiously. It was dark, no one would have seen the icy patch. Cars all over the highway were in the ditch. I am human and I made a mistake. We were all safe, the car was not damaged, I was just shaken up. And embarrassed. I am not perfect (though don’t tell anyone because I like to pretend that I am…).
Anyway, Maya’s quote about people remembering how you make them feel… it reduces the need to be perfect or always say the right thing. If I do my thing, have my conversations and interactions from a place of respect, it doesn’t matter.
I have had supervisors / mentors / career counselors that I really appreciate. I don’t appreciate him/her because they tell me what I want to hear all of the time. In fact, sometimes they tell me what I don’t want to hear, but they do it with respect.
I always remember the character with which a message is delivered. I remember the concern and the interaction and the way that they follow-up after the fact to ensure that I’m ok. I remember laughing, or crying or getting angry and not seeing a difference in the level of respect received. I remember the way that they made me feel.
I can’t tell you word for word every conversation that happens – but I can usually recall my feelings towards the individual that I was talking to. It doesn’t matter what the topic is – if the message isn’t delivered with respect, I’ll remember.
…people will never forget how you made them feel…
I’m glad that I re-found this quote today, it was a good reminder.