What's in a Nudge?

A remark here, a raised eyebrow there, and before you know it you may have affected someone’s life.

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Michael Wade

The executive went to the retirement party of a woman who’d been his secretary years ago. She’d gotten promoted since then and wound up in an important and rather influential spot. He’d seen her a few times over the years. He was surprised that she was retiring so early, but in those days early retirement was not that unusual.

[See 10 rules of E-mail etiquette.]

When the woman rose to speak, she thanked many people in the room and then turned to the executive. She mentioned how he had encouraged her to apply for a job that, due to a lack of confidence and the fact that she didn’t have a college degree, she thought she’d never get. She said if it had not been for his “bugging her” to apply, she would have stayed in her old position.

[See when convenience rules decision-making.]

The executive could barely remember the situation. He knew that he’d encouraged her to apply but he also knew that she was very capable and he’d had no doubts whatsoever that she’d excel in the post. He did not regard the encouragement that he had given as any big deal. He had completely forgotten it until she mentioned it at the retirement party.

Afterward, he wondered how often he nudged people for good things and worried about when he may have nudged them negatively. A remark here, a raised eyebrow there, and before you know it you may have affected someone’s life.

Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.

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