While Maya Angelou wasn’t the first person to say this quote, she was the person most often referenced for it. She said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!”
I couldn’t agree more.
While I am in the business of speaking, it’s the words and actions I use to move the audience members toward the goal of doing more in their life and business.
We (society) often relate impact to actions, this person gave me x, or I received a gift from my friend. However, I would argue, and I think Maya would too, that the actions aren’t what is memorable, and the actions are sustainable, it’s the feeling inside of you that is memorable. It’s that feeling that stays a long time, and as such is sustainable. As you think back on your experiences, it’s the feeling that first comes up, then you start to match that feeling with the action someone took, and the things they possibly said while taking that action.
The more I travel this country, the more people I interact with, the more I’m “feeling” the moment.
Just the other day I was in a drive thru at Dunkin Donuts (Shocker), and I had ordered 2 Med Iced Coffees. As I pulled up to the window, I saw the person making 2 Large Iced Coffees. Seeing that there was no intercom, and the drive thru window was closed, I knocked on it. She opened it and I politely let her know that I had ordered 2 Medium, not 2 Large. I was hoping to catch her before she put the coffee into the cups, ultimately saving her and the business from any waste. As it turns out, I was wrong. (Note that in the history books). I was immediately barked at with “I KNOW, these aren’t for you. We are serving more than just you in this business!” Ouch. Her bark was quite shocky. Clearly she was quite upset that I was informing her of a possible mistake, and she chose to take that out on me. This interaction went south VERY quickly. You could sense the tension between my vehicle and the drive thru window. In fact, I almost drove off without my order because I wanted no part of the nastiness that was coming my way. Instead, I took my order, drove away, and started reliving the moment. What could I have done differently? I kept asking myself that. Nonetheless, I kept thinking of how she made me feel. When she snapped at me, I started recoiling, rethinking, and recanting, what I had said and done. Emotionally, I was sad, upset, and disappointed. It’s likely I will never go back to this location ever again. It was that unpleasant.
However, the lesson from that experience is this. What you say has an impact on others, in a very emotional way at times. Those words may not be remembered weeks later, but the feeling surely will, and that’s exactly what Maya was referring to when she used that quote.
Try as best you can to use words and actions that result in positive experiences and emotions for the people you are working with. It’s a much better world for us all when we can all do that more often!