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My words can kill you

There are words I will never forget - for good and for bad. The power of words can be used to build people up or destroy relationships - How do you use your words?

Can you remember the first time you heard the words “I love you”!? Your world changed. It felt like magic. That emotion running through your veins was indescribable. Three little words – with impact. Same is true for negative words. Ever heard a “you will never succeed in this”? What impact did it have? Remember that disbelief or disgust from a teacher or trainer? I guess you can still recall that pain those words caused.

There is something in us human beings that we react upon words – regardless whether they are true. Usually we don’t filter. We hear. We feel. We react. Words can hurt like knives. And at the same time words can bring healing and uplifting. It all depends on the speaker.

How can you use this power in your workplace?

When you think of your ideal workplace – how would you like to work with your colleagues? What should be the atmosphere in your team? For example, I enjoy having a team that likes each other. I love to hear laughter and a loud “hey, good to see you! how are you doing?” when people from my team meet each other.

So, what do I do? I model exact that behaviour. I greet my team. I tell them how happy I am that they are there (and I am truly happy that each one of them is in my team!). I use words to express what I am feeling. Otherwise they wouldn’t know. And because they feel welcome, they are at ease and enjoy being around. And from what I am seeing – they are continuing to welcome new people in the team and extend the good atmosphere themselves.

How can you build your team with this power?

Your team consists of individuals. And you have to invest in each person individually in order to get a great team. What do I mean? When you are in a feedback session use the time well to speak potential into your people. Aside from the “well done here” and “please improve there” find time to speak about the future roles and responsibilities you see them in. Specify which strengths you see and where these attributes will contribute to the career of your team member.

When your team member hears you speaking strength and life into his/her life, he/she will start growing. It strengthens his/her self-esteem and self-believe. And that grown person will contribute to the team in the future – consequently the team grows.

How do you know what to speak?

If you are unsure whether you should make that statement let it run through this filter:

  1. Is the statement true?
  2. Is the statement helpful for the other person?
  3. Can you speak it kindly? (meaning: with a kind intention)

If you asked yourself, you would immediately know that you would only want feedback spoken in that way: true, helpful, kind. Yet, very often we tend to be harsh, unfair or angry.

BUT: “I am not a person of words”

Quite often the discussion on speaking to each other hits the “I am not a person of words” argument. Meaning: I don’t want to speak to my team. (I assume you have the ability to speak, so the only reason you do not use this ability is a pure choice.)

You can choose in life whatever you want: speech or silence. But don’t expect people to know what you are thinking. Quite often frustration joins the discussion: “but they should know…” This is based on the assumption that the logic of your brain must be the logic of all brains – especially of your team members. To make that clear: You are responsible to speak your mind. If you choose to stay silent, it will have consequences, e.g. a team that is not doing what you want.

Words have the power to transform your team. So does silence. You choose what you want to model.

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