“. . . I know that the only source of happiness is within me, and I will begin to share it. Like a perfume, I know that I cannot pour it on others without getting a few drops on myself. " - Og Mandino, “The Choice"
"You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time. " - John Knox
The childhood chant “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me" is a lie.
Do you remember every time you fell from your bike as a child? How about every time you have hit your knee or elbow working around your house? Most people forget these incidents as soon as the physical pain subsides.
Do you remember some nickname that you hated as a child? Did your parents or teachers ever tell you something that made you feel inferior or weak? Do you remember any negative comments you have received on job performance reviews? If you are like most people, you remember these negative words long after the moment has passed.
Now consider the positive words you have received. Maybe, like me, they came from your family as a child. Maybe they came from a favorite teacher, coach, or mentor. Think for a moment about the impact these words have had on your life.
Positive or negative, words leave a mark. The mark is not on the surface where you can see it, but there is a mark.
Here's a story to illustrate my point. As a child, my parents and I lived in North Carolina. Both sets of my grandparents lived in Texas. We visited Texas about twice a year. During these visits, we often split our time between the two families. I loved both dearly, but I always wanted to spend more time with one than with the other. Both sets loved me. Both treated me well. Both would do nearly anything for me. But there was one big difference. One grandmother called me “precious, angel, baby child" and “my wonderful, precious angel". The other called me Guy. Which do you think was my favorite? You can probably guess where I wanted to spend my time.
I loved both of my grandmothers, but one became a greater influence on my life. Why? She constantly spoke words of encouragement to me and everyone else she met for that matter. In fact, she still does to this day. She always tells me how wonderful I am, how much she loves me, and how proud she is of me. As an adult, I still look forward to speaking with her.
When my grandfather passed away, I spoke at his funeral. I did the best I could to pay tribute to one of the greatest men I have ever personally known. About six months later, my grandmother called again to tell me how wonderful my comments were and how smart and wise I am. I don't really believe that I am the smartest person on the planet, but it sure feels good to have someone tell you that. After we spoke, I felt like a million bucks and believed that I could accomplish anything.
Would you like to have that influence on people? Would you like to inspire the people around you to work harder and accomplish more? You do hold that power. You have it when you use positive words – words of encouragement and praise. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Treat a man as he appears to be and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be. "
Next to example, words are probably the most powerful tools leaders use. Words communicate your hopes, your dreams, your vision, your message, and your heart. Words show other people how you see them. As a leader, your words make a difference. Your words will either build-up or tear down, encourage or discourage, inspire or deflate. The choice is up to you.
I encourage you to remember this simple tip and spread some perfume of happiness around as you . . . Choose to become an encourager.
Copyright 2005, Guy Harris
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Guy Harris is the Chief Relationship Officer with Principle Driven Consulting. He helps entrepreneurs, business managers, and other organizational leaders build trust, reduce conflict, and improve team performance. Learn more at http://www.principledriven.com
Guy co-authored “The Behavior Bucks System TM" to help parents reduce stress and conflict. Learn more about this book at http://www.behaviorbucks.com