When your words have greater impact than you expect or intend.
There’s Alex and there’s me.
I see us as colleagues in a small office.
When I share info, ask a question, brainstorm, problem solve – communicate in any way – I assume I’m communicating as a collaborator – which has an assumed equality to the relationship.
I see that I’m communicating directly across – with a peer.
But – some important factors.
I’m her boss
I own the company
I’m twice her age
I am fast and intense
I’m an external processor and she is an internal processor
Hmmmm. I have to realize a few things that I didn’t acknowledge for a long time.
We are not speaking directly across. She receives my words from a height differential.
And, as they make their way down to her, they gain speed and weight – and land heavily. More heavily than I intend them to.
When I ask my co-owner, “Where’s that email?“ it lands quite differently than if I ask Alex.
I realized this is something I term The Alex Effect.
The reality is, the factors mentioned above change our relationship.
The Alex Effect needs to be considered in your leadership communication. You think because you treat everyone the same they all see you the same way – they do not. They see you as the boss, the owner, the leader, the influencer. The person with more status and power.
The Alex Effect changes the impact. Your intention is the same. Your landings are different.
The only way to change the impact, the landing, is to change what you say and/or how you say it. It matters. Think about your choices around these items:
Tone – Your tone can amplify or minimize the dynamics of your conversation.
Intensity – Be aware of both your voice and body – proximity, volume and speed have an impact on the message.
Vocabulary – Choose carefully and wisely and use your word choice to soften your landing.
Be curious – Asking questions, gathering opinions and creating a dialogue vs a monologue goes a long way in creating real collaboration.
Transparency – Sometimes you just need to own it. It’s okay – transparency creates trust.
Think about the dynamics of your group and how The Alex Effect works in your environment. If you don’t think about it, you can unintentionally do harm to your relationships and the Alex in your life.