We’re capable of having a positive or negative impact on our connections. I want to share a story that highlights how the actions of different people had both a negative and a positive impact on myself during what was a very stressful event for me.
In high school, I ended up snapping at a teammate who was being very rude to me and other members of our team at a big multi-school project where teams were interacting as world nations. I was well outside of my comfort zone in the crowded auditorium, and when a teammate criticized my teammates and me, I lost it. Especially when we were working hard to correct her mistakes.
I didn’t mind correcting her mistakes, but I couldn’t handle the way she disrespected the team. I didn’t enjoy how I responded to her, but to this day I’m still proud of how I responded even in anger. I didn’t insult her and I didn’t curse, but I would not accept her disrespect either. I raised my voice and made that clear. After the exchange, I made sure to tell my teammates that I appreciated all their hard work. Our teammate proceeded to disengage entirely from the group, and I was asked to take on her speaking role when it was time for the presentation.
I went up onto that stage in front of students and teachers from all over the Bay Area having never had the opportunity to practice the presentation, and when it came to the Q&A time I had to deal with a heckler repeatedly asking the same question. It was an absolute nightmare for an introvert like myself, but when I walked off that stage I had teachers from other schools come up and compliment me on my performance.
When the event finished, a friend from another team found me to ask what had happened when I lost my cool and if I was alright. Her concern and support and the support of the teachers I didn’t even know meant the world to me and made that event the treasured memory that it is. Their appreciation and consideration are what made me value that experience and helped to make this experience a good one.
My disrespectful teammate is an example of what not to give in our connections. My own response illustrates the consequences that come from neglecting our connections. My friend and those teachers are exquisite examples of the power we have on others when we give good things to others. Because of them, that experience is a defining moment in my life instead of a hated nightmare of a memory.
The ability to connect with others gives us the power to make a lasting positive impact on the people around us. That’s the lasting effect I hope to make on this world. To enable clients to be like my friend and those teachers while also knowing how to avoid negative situations like the exchange with my teammate. This is how small acts of kindness can make a big impact on the world.