Train says it best in the lyrics of the song, “Words:”
Words, they’ll try to shake you, don’t let them break you or stop your world from turning. When words keep you from feeling good, use them as firewood and let them burn.
We can increase the joy and effectiveness in our lives and in the lives of others by being aware of the words we use. Our words have power and influence! They can encourage or they can corrupt, so let’s be accountable to the words we choose. Here are three insights to remember about the power of your words.
1. Watch your buts!
Anytime you use the word “but,” you erase anything that proceeds it.
- “Great job on that project, but…”
- “I love my team, but…”
- “John is the best leader, but…”
- “She is so smart, but…”
- “We are growing like crazy, but…”
- “I feel we are poised for great things, but…”
- “I have a vision, but…”
- “You are hitting all of your sales numbers, but…”
When I want to know more about what is on an executive’s mind, I listen carefully to what they say after the word “but.”
2. Develop a habit of using words that are full of life!
Full of life words sound like this:
- I love you.
- Forgive me.
- Thank you.
- I was wrong.
- I make mistakes, too.
- I believe in you.
Don’t those words sound good? Wouldn’t you like to hear those words spoken to you? Now, read each sentence again, and put the word “but” at the end of each one. It’s sad and shocking how it completely changes the meaning.
3. Remember we are what we say and who we hang around.
We tend to spend most of our time with those who think like we do. If you listen to the words those closest to you use, you will likely get a good analysis of the words you use. As the leader of your choices, choose to lift spirits and have a positive outlook, and spend your time with people who do the same.
Your words matter! Before you speak, think! Will your words hurt or help? Choose to praise and raise versus strain and drain.