How to Be Intentional about the Impact of Your Words
The Scripture makes it clear that careless words can have a powerful effect on people. Do you say words that you would rather not have come out of our mouth? I know everybody puts their foot in their mouth every now and then. I’ve gotten rather accustomed to the taste of mine. But what about the words that you say regularly? Or perhaps you’re not aware of the impact your words have on others.
When I was a kid, I heard the school phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Sadly, that phrase is just not true.
I am convinced that words can do much damage—especially emotional and spiritual damage. Proverbs 18:14 says that your spirit will sustain your infirmity, but it’s not so easy to do that when you have a wounded spirit. A broken bone can heal, but many people never heal from the wounds made by words.
At the same time, words can build up and do great good. Proverbs 16:24 says that pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. You can impact people powerfully by the words you say. Think through the opportunity you have to exert your Self-Leadership in what you say.
To help you capitalize on that opportunity, here are three ways you can look at the words you say and how you can choose the words you say.
1. Say words you mean, and mean words you say.
People tend to joke about things that they don’t want to have to be serious about. But when people do that, they are not communicating directly. As a result, no one is really sure what they mean by what they said and they can end up causing relational damage (Proverbs 26:18-19).
When you talk to others, be direct. Make sure that you say what you mean. And don’t let words just fall out of your mouth. Make sure that you mean what you say. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it.
If you mean “yes,” then say “yes.” If you mean “no,” then say “no.” Saying anything other than that causes more problems than you want to have to deal with (Matthew 5:37).
2. Say words that build up, not tear down.
If people say what they really think, oftentimes they do so without evaluating it first. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can consider what you say before you say it. You can and should control your tongue (James 1:26), even at your workplace. In an interview on my blog, my friend Nathan Tabor, who Business Leader Magazine placed in the top 50 entrepreneurs in his region, explains
how you deal with your personal life—your walk with God—really affects tremendously how your business life will be. … The proverb principle “a soft answer turns away wrath”—take that and apply it to your business world when you’re getting ready to argue with a partner, or you have a deal that’s going south, or someone is yelling at you about something. Instead of yelling back, take the approach of … “I’m really sorry that that’s happened so let’s see what we can do to work that out.” It’s amazing how that will calm that situation.
Remember that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). You may be the only one who understands the importance of this truth at your workplace. Even if your boss doesn’t understand the power of the tongue, you do—and you can be the source of life-affirming talk that will build up everyone you come into contact with. Don’t miss the opportunity to speak words of life: “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
3. Don’t be afraid to say words you want to say.
You have an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Don’t squander the opportunity. You don’t have to dubbed Chief Morale Officer before you speak words of life: you don’t need prior authorization to say something nice.
Say the words to others that you would want others to say to you (Matthew 7:12). Before long, the very words that you say to others will eventually come back to you (Ecclesiastes 11:1).
The words you say have great power. You never know the impact that you can have on another person. Resolve to be the person who others remember as someone who was willing to say the very words they longed to hear.
Allow what you think to have an effect on what you say. The more you can control what you think, the more you can say words to others that will have a transformational effect on them.
Did you know that I
* Perform organizational culture assessments,
* Coach leaders how best to lead their teams, and
* Train teams how to best perform like a team?
To find out more, check out my new book, Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew.