How do you make them feel?

 Maya 2“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

This week, one of my modern-day heroes passed away. In her memory, I wanted to pause and share my favorite Maya Angelou quote. It applies to people and interpersonal relationships everywhere, but has a special meaning for leaders who are working to engage stakeholders in change.

Change is often first perceived as a threat by the human brain, according to recent neuroscience research. So it goes to reason, that people who feel threatened will be feeling many negative emotions like fear, anger, confusion, and so on.

To offset those negative reactions towards change, it is imperative for leaders to think about how they can fully engage stakeholders and counteract those negative perceptions.

Here are a few questions that leaders can ask themselves to focus not only on greater stakeholder engagement, but to attend to how people “feel” about the change effort:

  1. What am I doing and saying to inspire others and make them feel a part of co-creating a new, desired future?
  2. What am I doing and saying to build trust and help stakeholders feel safe?
  3. What communication methods and modes am I utilizing to help stakeholders feel fully informed of the change effort?
  4. What feedback loops am I employing to make sure that there is a free flow of communication and help stakeholders feel they have a voice?
  5. What structures and processes am I creating or supporting that allow stakeholders to fully participate and feel ownership?

Anita Rios


2 responses to “How do you make them feel?

  1. Great advice to leaders Anita! I too greatly admired Dr. Angelou and was fortunate to have heard her speak once in the “Women of Substance” talks at the University of Saint Catherine in St. Paul, MN, USA. She was a force of nature who inspired many of us to SING and speak our truth! Feelings matter! Words matter!


  2. Thanks for sharing. Your post is a useful coubritntion.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.