I pulled up to the street as I was exiting the parking lot and as I was stopping, a car passing by swerved so bad, you would have thought I was coming at him full speed. I said out loud, “What the heck’s his problem?” I was 18 or 19 at the time and my boss who I also considered a friend and mentor, was sitting in the passenger seat and responded, “You stopped pretty fast and he probably thought you were going to hit him.”
I said, “Well, I didn’t mean to make him think that.” To which he replied “Yeah but did you mean not to?” “Did you think about the cars passing by and how it looks to them?”
It was a very interesting point and something I have remembered and tried to always apply to my actions. There is a difference in not meaning to do something and meaning not to do something.
Mean Not To
Sometimes in business we will do things that may aggravate a customer or client. Or maybe an employee. We sometimes make decisions that hurt ourselves or others. Many times it is because although we didn’t mean to, we didn’t mean not to. We didn’t take the extra time to think about what we were really doing or how others would be affected. We didn’t put ourselves in the other person’s shoes to see how things would look to them.
See, back to my original story, I came out of that parking lot fully knowing I was going to stop and not paying attention to my speed or how close to the street I was going to go. At that moment, only I knew what I was going to do. The cars passing by, only see a car coming up to the street pretty fast and stopping just short of pulling right out into traffic. In their eyes, they are about to have an accident. And their attempt to avoid me could have caused an accidents in itself.
Had I cared at that moment about the cars passing by, I would have slowly pulled up to the exit and stopped at an appropriate distance.
Take a look at some of the actions and decisions you make in your business, see if you are doing them with a “not mean to” or “mean not to” mindset. It makes a big difference in how you will make decisions. Start looking at things from a different perspective. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see how they see it. What can you do to mean not to have the wrong reactions and results?
It’s always easy to look back and say “Well, I didn’t mean to.” But you have to put in thoughtful effort to mean not to.