"Our 'emotional wake' is how we affect others after we have left the room. Let's make sure we are creating this effect on purpose."
~ Bill Crawford

“Our ’emotional wake’ is how we affect others after we have left the room. Let’s make sure we are creating this effect on purpose.” ~ Bill Crawford

What Is Said About Us When We Leave The Room

I’m reading an excellent book by Susan Scott entitled, “Fierce Conversations,” and in it she speaks to the effect we have on people after we are gone. I don’t mean after we die (although that certainly pertains, as well), but after we leave the room, or are no longer around.

She calls this our “emotional wake,” and I love the image this brings to mind. In other words, we have all seen the wake a boat leaves when it goes through the water… the wake changes the water behind it and eventually becomes ripples that can have long-lasting effects long after the boat has gone.

This can be helpful for those of us who want to be influential with others. Rather than just telling them what we think, or what we want them to do, I suggest we first ask ourselves, “How can I say what I want to say in a way that they will hear as valuable?” Or, “What is the emotional wake I want to leave behind here?”

The truth is, “how” we say what we say will not only make a huge difference in whether we are heard and understood, it will make a difference in how they act upon what we say going forward. If the emotional wake is negative, it will minimize their willingness to follow through on what we are wanting them to do. And, in addition, it will color the next interaction in a negative way, which means they may come in to any future conversation suspicious and resistant.

In my books and seminars, I teach people a six-step process for communicating and influencing others. It starts with our taking 100% responsibility for our state of mind, which means we never go into a conversation (or stay in a conversation) when we are stressed, angry, anxious, worried, or tired. Instead, we become clear about our highest purpose (the qualities and characteristics we want to bring to life) and make sure we are being this way before engaging others.

Next, we never try to stop someone’s negative behavior, because they are likely to hear that as criticism and get defensive. Instead, we focus on the aspects of their personality we want to bring out (versus stop or change), and again, make sure we are framing what we say in a way that they will hear as valuable. (For the rest of the model, feel free to pick up my book, “Life from the Top of the Mind,” or if you’d like, bring me in to speak to your leadership team and/or organization.)

The bottom line is that we all want to be heard and understood, and we want others to think of us in positive ways after the conversation is over. Therefore, I suggest we pay attention to the emotional wake we are creating whenever we engage others so that what is left behind is as positive and constructive as possible.

~ All the best, Dr. Bill