Mary Susan Buhner">

What’s Your Impact?

“It’s how you make others feel that matters.” This is a saying that one of my dearest friends lives by. She has said this phrase a million times in different scenarios over the years, noticing when people have been upbeat, attentive and kind and when they have been angry, nasty or short-tempered. When you really start to take note of the people you spend time with, you begin to notice a pattern of how they make you feel. Encouraged? Happy? Interesting? Defeated? Mad? Once you become aware of their effect, you can decide if this is a relationship you want to move forward with.

My first boss out of college taught me one of the most important lessons based on my friend’s principle. He was only interested in the conversation he was having with you – he never looked over your shoulder to see if there was someone better approaching.He never gave the impression that he was in a hurry, distracted or had anything else in the world to do but talk with you at that very moment. Indeed, he was (and is) a master at making people feel good and important. Every time I see him I am reminded of this almost magical quality he has. Of course, it’s not magic at all, but rather his deliberate choice to focus on others and how he makes them feel.

Recently, our youngest daughter was hospitalized and diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Her diagnosis left us shocked and overwhelmed. It became very clear to us who in our lives had the ability to lift our spirits and make us feel important to them and who did not. It actually turned out to be a gift to know where people stood. We realized we had been giving too much time, energy and effort to those who just did not come through and support us through this difficult time. Had they ever supported us? Probably not. It was also a wakeup call that we had taken others for granted who did support us and probably always had.

As a result of this experience, I was reminded to make the conscious effort to make those around me feel good and important when I am with them, and to fully engage when we are together. What matters is what is happening right now with whomever you are experiencing the moment with.

How I make others feel has become a guiding principle in my life – and it’s a trait I want to teach my children as well. Not only so that they know how to treat others, but so they can learn how they should be treated as well.

Maya Angelou said it best: “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.”

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