29 Jan Sticks and stones
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me. This old saying couldn’t be further from the truth. Words do hurt. Words can break a heart. Words can ruin a day, cause tears and ruin friendships and families. In a world where everything is fast and getting faster, we often speak without thinking. The words leave our mouths before we’ve considered the consequences. The truth, I believe, is that if we examine our words, we’ll discover what’s really going on in our hearts. The condition of our hearts tend to spill out into the words we speak and how we speak them. Anger, insecurity and bitterness speak words of insult and blame. Love, compassion and happiness speak words that encourage, guide and edify.
With a two year old around, we have to be so careful what we say in our home. Every conversation is heard, questioned and sometimes repeated. We’ve learnt that the hard way. Such a small person can take in so much more than we allow ourselves to think. Our little guy can pick up on our moods just from hearing the way we speak to each other and the way we speak to him. What I’ve learnt from this tiny soul is that our words have such a huge impact. Calm words of correction and guidance receive a far better response than a sharp instruction without explanation for the discipline being given. Words of reassurance and encouragement build the confidence to try something new. What is so scary for me is that the way he observes these moments now will shape and mould who he’ll be in ten or twenty years’ time and what he believes is an acceptable way to engage with others.
The same is true in a work environment. The words spoken between colleagues can seriously impact the entire team morale. A friendly ‘good morning’, a compliment, a thank you for work well done can motivate and encourage not only the recipient, but also others who overhear. Respect is earned through conversations that take the time to explain and teach. A positive environment is created by conversations that provide recognition and encouragement. A positive environment is a productive environment.
In his book Humility, True Greatness, CJ Mahaney reminds us that we are called to speak words of encouragement, to use our words for purpose and for good. On average, we speak about 20 000 words per day. How many of these have purpose and are used for good? How many of these are negative and destructive?
Our words matter. Our words have power. Let’s choose them wisely.