How What You Do and Say Affects Others: The Butterfly Effect

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”Leo Buscaglia

The Butterfly Effect, Chaos Theory, and Quantum Science have fascinated me for several years.  I believe everyone and everything is connected and whatever we say and do can affect everything and everyone.  Keeping that in mind, we must pay attention to our choice of words and to our actions. 

I have created a couple of stories to help explain what I mean. 

The Stories

Two stories about how what we say and do can affect others.  We are all connected, and our words and actions have a ripple effect.  Small actions can have large effects.  Read more on the Butterfly Effect at

The link below will provide additional information for you on how our actions affect others.

The Bird

Characters in The Bird

JB – the driver who cut off AZ.

AZ – the driver who flipped JB the bird.

CD – the receptionist.

DE – JB’s spouse

man giving a middle finger sign
Photo by Daniel Portillo on

JB accidentally cut someone off driving to work – that person AZ) flipped JB the bird. JB was already feeling bad because they’d had a disagreement with their spouse. They knew they hadn’t been paying close enough attention to their driving and they were sorry. But JB couldn’t apologize, the person was gone. Now JB felt bad for two reasons – the disagreement with their spouse and cutting someone off in traffic.  

JB wondered how the other driver felt. Did that person feel bad or just angry, probably calling JB a menace and horrible driver?  Of course, in that instance, JB was a horrible driver, and could have caused an accident.  All because they’d had a disagreement with their spouse. 

Let’s look back and forward on this situation.

AZ was now angry and had been given a fright.  AZ was now a bit distracted as they continued their way to work, which could be dangerous.  Once at their destination AZ angrily shared their experience and anger with others explaining how this idiot cut them off.  AZ had trouble concentrating on their job and spoke harshly to the receptionist. 

The receptionist, CD, unaware of the driving incident, didn’t know what they had done wrong, and concluded AZ didn’t like them for some reason.  CD has been struggling with self-esteem issues and this has been a setback.  They are now telling themselves they are unlikable and can’t do anything right.  With those feelings calls are not being answered in a cheerful manner, and messages weren’t all taken accurately.  As a result of one message not being delivered accurately a callback was missed costing the company money. CD was severely reprimanded; their day had just deteriorated. 

At the end of the day CD went home feeling down, their self-esteem at the lowest it had been.  Their thoughts were toward ending their life. They had these thoughts in the past and managed to work through their concerns, but though this was not the worst thing that had happened, the timing was the last straw. This world was not one they wanted to be in, and they could no longer stand the pain and suffering.

flowers marguerites destroyed dead
Photo by Gratisography on

That night CD ended their life.  The obituary read CD left behind a loving mother, father, sister, brother, and grandparents.

AZ, the driver who flipped JB the bird has a long history of not anger issues which have not been resolved. When AZ went home, they were in a foul mood and became verbally abusive with their partner, TC.  This resulted in an argument that turned physical and sending TC to hospital for stitches. 

Now let’s go back to the beginning, the disagreement between JB and DE.  What was that all about?  It turns out that DE had been regularly having coffee with someone and had not shared this.  There had been no infidelity, but they had formed a strong bond and were developing a close relationship.  When JB confronted DE about their suspicions DE initially played it down stating they were friends just having coffee to discuss work, and there was nothing wrong.  However, JB was not convinced this was the full story.  As time went on and the regular coffee meetings continued and though DE didn’t openly share about these, JB discovered through mutual friends, and some sleuthing that DE was not being forthcoming.  On the day of the “cutoff” JB confronted DE with their findings.

An intense argument resulted.  JB felt hurt, angry, disrespected, and lied to.  Unfortunately, the issue was not resolved when JB had to leave for work.  Thus, the distraction. 

To expand on DE’s actions and how JB was affected.  JB had been working on self-improvement for quite some time.  Now they were feeling very down and wondering if all the positive self-talk, learning to love oneself, and thinking positive thoughts was doing any good.

What would have happened if DE had been open about coffee with their friend?  Was it innocent? Was something missing in the relationship between JB and DE?  Were JB’s feelings of betrayal, hurt, anger, disrespect, being unattractive, and unworthy legitimate?

Photo by Erik Mclean on

A Smile and a Kind Word

Characters in A Smile and a Kind Word

EW – the shopper

ED – the cashier

At the grocery check-out the cashier was quiet, non-smiling.  Though efficient there was no friendly chatter.  As EW was paying for the groceries, they took an extra second to say, “thank you, and I hope your day gets better.”  At that moment, the cashier finally smiled. 

EW felt good that they had added something positive to the cashier’s day. 

What about the cashier, ED?  ED went on break and was able to smile and chat with co-workers.  When ED had gone into work they were feeling quite down.  ED had overslept because they had stayed up working on a paper for their university course.  They were worried about the paper because they didn’t feel they had a good handle on the subject matter.  Though they had spent hours on the topic they just couldn’t get a good grasp.  So, they were tired, anxious, and feeling low.  ED had consumed several cups of coffee and a couple of doughnuts which had left them feeling wired and nauseated.  Now, coffee break time they realized some healthy food might be a good option.  A bowl of vegetable soup, and a salmon sandwich helped settle the nausea and curbed the coffee jitters.

As ED chatted with co-workers about their paper and where they were stuck.  A co-worker piped up that their partner had taken this same course and had a good understanding of the topic and would be willing to help after work.  In fact, their partner was looking for ways to be of service to others, to do some mentoring and even some tutoring.

ED got the help needed and did well on the paper with a clearer understanding of the topic. 

As ED continued their day, they were pleasant, chatting, and smiling with customers; spreading positive feelings to those with whom they came in contact.

I found another source I am sharing – by Tony Fahkry and am sharing that link here:


word kindness against flowers
Photo by Faith Giant on

Though the positive story doesn’t share as many connections because we don’t know for sure how the pleasantness of ED affected the numerous customers, we can feel quite sure that it had a positive effect that wouldn’t have happened with the sad and sullen ED prior to EW’s kind words.

Whether your actions and words are kind and caring, or harsh and demeaning they will influence others.  That effect will then be shared with others – it could make or break someone’s day and could go as far as stopping someone from ending their life, or making someone realize how much they have for which they can be grateful.

Where the mind goes, the energy flows.  One smile and kind word at a time.  Taking time to choose actions and words carefully, not just for how they make us feel in the moment, but how they will affect others only takes a moment.  Align your actions and words with your values – do you know your values?  You might not be able to bring world peace overnight, but you can bring love, kindness, caring, and calm to those with whom you interact.  One step, one action, one word at a time can change the world. The Butterfly Effect is quite powerful.