I’m going to start this article with a strange admission, one that means nothing in the scope of things to anyone but myself. I have lots of scars on my legs and I have no idea where they come from.

Scott O’Dell via Compfight

Didn’t expect that did you? 🙂 It’s a strange thing to say, but it’s a strange thing to be occurring. Thing is, I never notice them until I’m either going to bed or waking up. My wife thinks I’m doing it unconsciously while I sleep, probably because my skin feels dry and I might be scratching myself. She also thinks I might be walking into things because I’m known to cut corners and not thinking about checking myself to see if I’m bleeding or not.

Truthfully, It’s probably more of the second than the first. When I was a teenager I played a lot of sports; I played hard. I always wanted to win at any legal cost. Sometimes that involved taking a physical pounding, which I dished out as well.

When I’d come home I was often in some kind of pain. Most of the time it was muscle pain. Sometimes I might have twisted a knee or an ankle. But often I’d find cuts in different places of my body that I couldn’t tell you when they happened. Often they’d dried up, which meant there was no point of putting a band aid on them, while other times a band aid kept it from rubbing against my clothes. That would become necessary because sometimes you didn’t recognize you were in discomfort until you saw it.

As bad as physical injuries are, mental injuries can be much worse. Physical injuries heal for the most part; they might not be perfect but the pain goes away, or you can do something about some of the pain quickly. Mental injuries can be so bad that they’ll affect every single thing a person tries to do, often for years.

If you’re the one who inflicted the injury, most of the time you won’t even know it. You might do something to hurt someone’s feelings in the moment but then it’s gone and you never think about it again. However, as studies have shown, people who were bullied as children never forget the pain, even as the bullies have grown up and changed (hopefully). And those events almost never are mentioned to the bully, as both parties may never see each other again.

It doesn’t work like that in business. There are some people who hesitate to show up at work daily for fear of being bullied. I had a friend who worked at a job for years where everyday the supervisor of the department would berate her and everyone else. The problems were that they were doing the supervisor’s work, thus she was hard on them for results because she was going to turn them in as her work, and these people were paid at a higher rate than they’d probably have gotten elsewhere without advanced degrees. Sometimes people feel trapped because of money; that’s not right but that’s how it goes.

I’ve always tried to go out of my way to avoid anyone feeling discomfort based on my actions in the workplace. There are times when I’ve had to apply pressure to get something done, but if we got to where we needed to get I’d always offer praise and thank them for their effort. I think most people knew that it was never personal with me; after all, it was work, and unless there was a direct attack on my person, I was never out to “get” anyone; just not my style.

That’s because I’m someone who’s had things happen in my life that I’ve never forgotten about. I’ll own up to a few mental scars. I’ll own up to never forgiving any of the people who used me for their own purposes and never apologized for it. I use those things as motivation to try to push forward and to succeed. The scars I remember were intentional things against me; it wasn’t supposed to be personal but it was.

Thus, I never wanted to do that to anyone else. I’ve never performed an unprovoked attack on anyone. If I was their leader, I certainly wasn’t going to be the one; I didn’t have the right.

Sometimes you can’t avoid scarring someone. If you have to talk to someone about bad performance or let them go for whatever the reason is that will stick with them, even if it doesn’t stick with you.

It should always be professionally done. There should be specific reasons, reasons that person already knew about and had an opportunity to fix. Or reasons that come from a person’s violation of company policy; once again, they should have already known those rules.

Never be the catalyst for someone’s scars because of business. You may forget it and move on, but you may have ruined someone’s life without ever knowing it. Now that I’ve made you think about it, you can’t say you didn’t know.

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