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How to Make a Positive Impact — One Interaction at a Time

The power of your words and actions can create a lasting influence on others.

I travel frequently and the Bellingham airport has become a regular stop for me en route to various business meetings. Last week, I took an early morning flight to Portland. Admittedly, I was hardly awake at 5 a.m. and really needed some coffee as I waited my turn at the security line. 

There was someone new standing at the conveyor belt as the passengers put their items through for screening. At my turn, I placed my bag, coat, and clear plastic baggie in the bin, knowing this routine well. The agent gave me a bright smile and said, “Good morning! You have done a great job pulling your items for screening today.” 

After looking up in surprise at her enthusiastic response, I looked down at the bin. Although it didn’t really look any different than other times, I thought, “Wow, that was a nice compliment. I did a great job.” I said, “Thank you.” and gave her a warm smile back. I think my chest may have puffed a bit. I walked a little lighter on my feet through the metal detectors. No setting off any alarms today!

Before you think I did anything too extraordinary, I heard her tell the next passenger the very same thing as I went through to pick up my things on the other side. There is such power in our words and actions.

The Power of Your Words and Actions

Every interaction we have with others is an opportunity to build someone up or tear them down. Words can leave a lasting impact. 

Despite the majority of the crowd being tired and not at their best at this early hour, this woman made the decision to be friendly and encouraging to everyone she encountered. This small gesture made all the difference in my day, and the day of many others. It started with a choice that this employee made long before my encounter with her.

Everyone has relationships in which they serve as a leader in some degree or another. Whatever job you hold, you are in a position of leadership when it comes to influencing others. Leadership is influence and our behaviors influence others every day in a positive or negative way. You have the choice to be a powerful influence at work, at home, and in your community. Your leadership is a gift to others.

Sometimes it is important to remind ourselves that we can’t control what others say or do. We can only control our own response to it. We are responsible for our own behavior and our words, and those words can have a profoundly positive or negative impact on those around us.

Reflect on the Difference You Can Make

Take some time to look back over your interactions with others over the last week. Have your conversations with your family, friends, and coworkers been positive?

Even when it is our job to correct a behavior, I think we all would agree that affirmation beats condemnation, especially when it comes to motivating transformation. Any time we can catch someone doing something positive and affirm a behavior, it creates motivation in that individual to do it again. Adversely, when we see someone acting out negatively, for us to continually criticize them may just result in that person giving up changing their behavior entirely.

Your words have power. Choose them wisely. You can choose to be positive and uplifting to those you interact with, or you can choose to have a negative attitude and a complaining spirit. It is pretty easy for us to answer what type of energy we would rather be around. Even in times of challenge, you can make the choice to have a positive attitude and let your words bless others.

Your positive influence makes a difference. Make a “kindness” deposit into the lives of everyone you meet, and watch how others will react positively and pay it forward. 

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

— Mother Teresa

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