Actions, consequences and perceptions

As we know, every action we take has consequences, which can either be intended or unintended. Those consequences can either be positive or negative. Of course, usually the intended consequences are positive, but sometimes, the unintended can be negative.

These days, with seemingly every action being open for the world to see, those actions are perceived by others. Sometimes their perceptions of actions will be positive, while other times, they’ll be negative. You will not have intended for people to perceive them in a negative way, but you have no control over the perceptions of others.

This is a sobering thought – and it can be dangerous. “Because everyone can see what I do, and because they might perceive me in a way I don’t intend, it’s safer to do nothing – not to take actions.” So you do nothing, you say nothing, you stagnate, you don’t stand up for anything and you don’t risk raising the ire of people who could become customers or, at least, influence these people.

However, if we’re going to stand out and be heard among the increasing noise, we’ll need to be seen to be different – and be different. This might put some people offside as you fearlessly make your opinions known.


Many years ago, my first business coach politely reminded me that “What others think of you is none of your business.” (Thanks, LesleyAnn – great point.) The best any of us can do is act with honesty, with the very best of intentions, with integrity and with purpose. Beyond that, how we are perceived is none of our business. In fact, if we try to make it our business, forever checking in on peoples’ responses and reactions, it will probably drive us insane!

The other point is that, over time, your opinions could well change – based on new knowledge or information which was not available at the time of you stating your original viewpoint. Be prepared for this and be prepared to stand up and say “As new information is now available, I have changed my view on this matter.”

So, in the end, we must stand out, shout out and be heard. Of course, we should take due care, as far as is possible, not to unintentionally offend, but at the same time, understand that readers and listeners will form their own perceptions regarding our viewpoint.

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John Matthew

What John Matthew believes about small business

That the owner has risked many things that others take for granted;

That there is no guaranteed income or reward for the considerable effort that is required;

That often, the family home is on the line to support the business and its constituents;

That there is a dignity and self-respect that is earned;

That entire communities would be better places if there was an increased appreciation and respect for small business.

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