It stings. Another soul-crushing reprimand from a boss, parent, or spouse. That nauseous feeling when you feel unappreciated, misunderstood, and blamed. We've all been there, and in that knee-wobbling state we are far from playing at our best.

On the other hand, remember how you felt after receiving a big boost of positive reinforcement. A "great job", "thank you", or "I love you" that injected 1,000 kilowatts of energy into your step. You felt invincible. Awake. In the groove.

I find it ironic that while each of us knows both feelings so well, many people totally fail to think about how their own behavior impacts others. They don't realize that their harsh words can smash someone they care about like a mallet to over-ripe cantaloupe.

Naturally, there's a better way. The best business leaders carefully manage the emotional state of those around them. They realize that people perform at their very best while feeling supported and appreciated. In our competitive world, you'll only seize your full potential by supporting the imagination, confidence, and sense of purpose of others. Command-and-control tactics of the past have been rendered useless now that team members create value with their brains instead of backs.

I'm not suggesting leaders should just be feel-good Pollyannas and pass out daisies instead of holding their teams accountable. Whether you're engaged in business, art, medicine, community development, or politics, you still need to manage to specific outcomes. What I'm suggesting is that with the speed and complexity of the times, being acutely mindful of the emotional impact of your actions will drive the bottom line far better than simply cracking the whip again.

The same applies outside the business world. In any human relationship, you will perform far better knowing the other person has your back. Knowing this to be true, it's time to connect with the perspective of those around you. If you think taking someone down a peg is "teaching them a lesson," you're about as accurate as Zena, the midtown tarot card reader.

When you change your approach, thinking about how your words and actions will impact others, you will transform the possibilities around you. Relationships will come to life. Imagination will soar. And to top it off, people will return the favor and start treating you with the respect that both of you deserve.

If your go-to move makes others feel the burn of #200 extra-coarse sandpaper to the forehead, it's time to take a radically new approach. Empathy 2.0. And this new App is free to download, available for all platforms and devices.

 

Published on: Jun 7, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.