Last week I had to renew my driver’s license.  Since I hadn’t been paying attention, it was past the expiration date, so I needed to visit the local DMV.

While waiting for my name to be called, I looked at my photo on the old license.  I’ve had to live with this grumpy, angry representation for five years.  What I remember of my last experience with DMV was that it was excruciatingly aggravating – as was reflected in my photo.

You may remember that I do not always enjoy contact with large organizations (see The Personal Energy Cost of Bad Customer Service).  This visit actually went smoothly (more on that later).

Looking at the photo I was also reminded of a former client. Bill is a very bright guy, and at the time, the head of an engineering department at a communications company.  There were many important projects to be managed, so Bill always had much on his mind.

Grumpiness is seldom intentional

When I began working with him, I received feedback from his co-workers.  They said – he’s always grumpy; never smiles; never says hello; never acknowledges; always unfriendly and scary looking.  Bill was also a very large, bear of a man, over 6’5” tall.  When he walked down the hallways looking grumpy, he was scary.

The Bill I met with was soft spoken and truly likeable, more of a teddy bear.  When I presented his co-workers’ feedback, he said “I’m not thinking about other people when I walk down the hallway. I’m usually on my way to a meeting and thinking about some challenge that needs to be addressed. I honestly don’t even notice the people on the way.”

Grumpy impacted co-workers do not enjoy the workplace

Dedicated focus on results is an admirable trait.  However, there also needs to be an conscious awareness of the people around you.  Peak performance is the result of a peak work experience.  And, that requires helping your co-workers enjoy their workplace; not scare them to death every time you leave your office.

Bill changed his whole approach.  He began to intentionally use his walk time to be more observant of his team.  He actually hung a mirror by the door to his office so he was reminded to look at his face before he walked out.  Was it his scary, grumpy face or his gentle, teddy bear face?  He set his intention to observe, smile, say hello and engage with people.

That little move made a huge difference in a very short period of time (actually being conscious and aware of your impact on others is not a little move).  His CEO told me that there was almost a magical change in workplace. By being intentional about how he wanted to be with others, Bill was not only engaged in the hallway but was also more personable and engaged with people throughout the day.

An obvious side-effect was that Bill began to enjoy his work more when he realized that he had been ignoring his personal need for interaction and connection.

It’s up to you. What energy do you want reflected back to you?

The energy you send out to the world is the energy that is mirrored back to you.  You control that energy with your thoughts – conscious or unconscious.  If the people in your near energy field are grumpy, fearful, anxious, scared, the first question to ask is what energy are you sending.

As I mentioned, my visit to the DMV went smoothly.  When I told a friend I was going (with some expressed, negative reservation), she suggested I read my own blog and follow my own advice.  So, I sat in my car, set my intention that everything would flow smoothly and that I would maintain a feeling of effortlessness throughout.  That’s exactly what happened.  I think  my new photo reflects that feeling of effortlessness.