Put simply, personal impact is the effect you have on others.
Inevitably, we affect those people with whom we come into contact, be it briefly or over years and years of daily communication.
Think of a couple you know who have been together for decades: their identities and personalities often mirror each other. Their emotional landscapes have, to an extent, been shaped by their ongoing impact on each other.
You have an impact on everyone in your life, and especially in the workplace. No wonder personal impact training has become such an important feature of many staff development programmes.
The big question is how can you improve your personal impact?
Here’s a good exercise to get you going: Personal Impact Audit
Bring to mind someone who has had a negative impact on you at some point - stick to people you’ve met at work over the years rather than trawling failed romances!
What was it about your communication with that person that left you feeling wound up, unsettled or downbeat?
Was it the way they spoke to you? Or the fact that they didn’t? Did they fail to listen to you? Did they undermine you or not offer support at the moment you needed? Did they pay no attention to your feelings? Did they brag about their past achievements?
Or did they do something less subtle, such as bore you with a tedious presentation or deliver uninspiring briefings? Or give you confusing instructions?
Now consider what that person could have done to improve their personal impact upon you, and probably others. If you were to see them again, what feedback would you give them?
By doing this, you begin to define what positive personal impact means for you, and it tends to be a little bit different for everyone.
Some people love a strong leader, whereas others feel like they’re being bossed about.
Others enjoy a laid back colleague, whereas some find them frustratingly slack.
Part 2 Personal Impact Audit
The second part of this personal impact audit is more difficult; you have to be pretty honest with yourself.
Bring to mind an instance where you have felt that your impact on a colleague has been less than perfect. It could be a one off, or perhaps there’s an ongoing relationship which just doesn’t click, where you have the sense that you’re irritating someone without meaning to.
Pick a moment of interaction between you and replay it in your mind. What happened? What do you think you did which led to a negative personal impact?
Crucially, what was that person or audience looking for from you that you failed to give them?
The key to positive personal impact is to start by treating people as you like to be treated, and then to move on to treating people as they like to be treated!
Of course there are many areas of personal impact which can be developed through coaching and training including charisma, confidence, presentation skills, listening, empathy, intuition and agreeability. These soft skills give you the ability to adapt your personal impact for your audience and communicate flexibly in many situations, but the first step is to understand both your own personal impact and the impact of those around you.