How do you want others to feel?

Someone I respect a lot asked me that question the other day. It kind of blindsided me, as I have strong relationships with the people he was referring to. But his point was nuanced and interesting: When relating to others, its more important to think about how your actions will make them feel, than what it will make them think of you.

I learned this early in my career, when I had exposure well beyond my age & experience. I found that, being eager, smart, 24 and working with 50-somethings, my ideas in meetings often weren't well received, despite being superior.

Thankfully, a mentor pulled me aside and put it in clear english: Rebecca, you do realize that when you say that all they're thinking is: Who does she think she is? Why didn't I think of that? or Is my worth / job / seniority at stake here? 

In other words, because they were feeling threatened, what they thought of me or my idea was irrelevant.

To be most effective, think about how you want people to feel, not what you want them to think of you.