“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
While viewed by many as a reminder to be “tough” and to not give the words of others more power than they are due, the fact is that this long-standing bit of wisdom is simply not true.
Words can do more than hurt people, quite often they can kill.
Cyberbullying. Racism. Verbal abuse.
All are cases in which words deeply affect the target of their assault.
Words can steal hope, confidence, and even life at times.
Words can heal by giving hope, confidence, and renewed life.
Words, Intent, and Impact
Intent + words = the power to steal and kill, or nurture and empower.
If we know that someone is “for us” then we are more apt to listen to tough words because we know the challenge is meant for our edification and highest possible good.
Conversely, if someone that we know is not for us, but is for themselves or possibly against us, then their words become like daggers to the soul. What could have been used as a tool of building and growth becomes a weapon of harm.
Most of the time we know the difference by the vibe we get from a person and the history of their intentions and actions towards us.
Choosing Words Wisely
Our responsibility is to give words that heal, help, and serve. In order to be leaders worth following we must understand how our words sound or land on the person we are conversing with.
If you have a tendency toward sarcasm, use discretion.
If you use a brief, sharp tone, try to give more support.
If you tend to yell, please rethink your strategy.
Receiving Words Well
Equally important is the way you receive words.
If someone is for you and brings challenge to you, consider their words as possibly helping you by bringing wisdom or discernment rather than simple criticism.
If someone is not for you, consider the art of ignoring the comments as baseless.
The point is…
You and I have the power to bring words that heal or steal. We also have the power to receive good words and deflect negative words that work against us in our own minds. Ultimately, the ability to empower or disempower words as they are given and received lies with us. We are the source of their potency.
So let’s bring the right words to our teams, our families, and even ourselves, knowing that words linger in the memory of those we encounter along our path in life.
If you’re interested in learning more about how words and communication affect your leadership and relationships, we’re happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let us know!