The moment is finally here. You’ve been waiting in line to meet your hero for hours and you’re about to go introduce yourself. You have a fifteen-second window to say the perfect thing. Your palms are sweating, and your mind is a revolving door of overthought jokes as you anxiously take tiny steps forward in what has seemed like an endless queue. It’s almost time. You’ve worn your go-to first date outfit that hasn’t failed you with the soft denim and your “I care, but not too much” shirt, and the tired mirror in your bathroom finally showed you what you were hoping for. You’ve never been more ready.
You get to the front of the line. You smile awkwardly. Your hero looks at you and says, “Nice to meet you. An interesting shirt choice,” and hands you back your autographed book.
They laugh. You forget what else you were planning to say and you move out of the way for the next person in line. First, you analyze their comment. Was that a compliment? Was I being made fun of? Did we just bond? Should I throw this shirt away and weep? Do they hate me? Do I hate them? Then you kick yourself for not saying anything at all you planned to say. Now you’re in a spiral in you don’t know what direction because of the one sentence someone you looked up to said to you casually. Now you’ll just think about it for the next two weeks…or your life.
When you are a person of influence, an off-hand remark or comment that you never think of again can have tremendous influence on those who look up to you. It was a very interesting realization for me as I led my company. Most employees only get a few chances to talk me a week or month, and so those interactions were monumental to them, even if I just see them as a casual connection in passing. Have the self-awareness and respect for yourself and others to understand when you are in a position of influence, there are no such things as off-hand comments to people you are leading. Your words hold weight. Always. That one interaction which ends for you in seconds may be carried with them for weeks.