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September 19, 20234 min read


Whether at home, at work, in public or with family and friends; be careful what you say. Be careful what you don’t say. We have to take responsibility for our words. If we declare ourselves something, we live up to them or the words come back and bite us. Some of us stay quiet which is fine sometimes. But other times staying quiet is taken as agreement. Being complacent equals being in agreement. Remember when you were a child and asking a parent if you could do something or go somewhere and there wasn’t really an answer? Didn’t you take that as a passive okay? I did! To me, if I didn’t hear no, it was yes. Even though you may think you are being neutral, being vocally passive can work against you at work and home. People will assume you are agreeing with them, on both sides which only works for a short time. Take a stand and if you don’t have one say so. Make it clear. Others respect that. 

Your words will be held against you or they could protect you. Of course in any serious or important conversations don’t just depend on your oral words. Send a text or email with the same information as back up in case there is any confusion. I learned the hard way. It takes a few more minutes but in the end, it is so much easier with a back up, just in case. 

People forget  50% of your conversation within 1 hour, 70% within 24 hours and 90% within a week!  And part of what they do remember is not exactly accurate! So look into the person's eyes and say what you want, as concisely as possible. Then send the written version while it’s still fresh.

Like after an interview; we thank the person and then the same day or within 24 hours we send a thank you email or text while we’re still fresh in his/her mind. Double it up so you will be more memorable. Relay in words why you would like to work there and be real. And short.

And positive. Go ahead and use flattery but only if it is sincere. Now if you really want to stand out, do what hardly anyone does anymore. Send a thank you card!  In the mail!  With handwritten words! Get it out the same day since it is “real” mail!

Sometimes we underestimate the weight or impact of our own words; for other people and also on ourselves. Have you ever looked a friend, or partner, or child in the eyes and said “Everything is going to be okay. I’m here for you”  or “We’ll figure this out. I promise.” Those words are powerful. Simple, sincere, assuring, supportive words. Triple the impact in person. 

Some people never hear those words. So whether you are the giver of these words or the receiver, they could be life changing. They could actually save a life. Less than ten words.

Conversely, fewer than ten words could cripple someone emotionally. “You’ll never make it.”

“You don’t have what it takes.”  “This is it.”  “Goodbye.”  Of course, for some people words such as those are a springboard to success. “Oh Yea?”  Those are fighting words and they fight back to eventually prove them wrong. Others carry the same words like an anchor. 

It doesn’t take much to be the person in someone’s life who tells them what they need to hear. Be a great boss. Be a great co-worker. A great friend. A great partner. A great parent. 

At work, although many may not agree, recognition is a more important motivator than money. 

When an employee is recognized for his/her work, through oral and written words, it is gratifying. When an employee takes pride in his/her work, it is a work of art, no matter what it is.  Positive feedback is fun and uplifting. (By the way, if you are receiving praise but no raise, ask for it. You deserve it! ) 

Slow down and think before you speak. Consider the consequences of your words. Are they going to be positive or negative? Will they build someone up or tear someone down?

That choice is yours. Use that power to be the person you had in your life or wish you had. 

It’s also a little selfish because it feels great to pull someone up; to give someone the emotional, physical, mental, and sometimes financial help they need to get to where they should be. It not only rewards the recipient but the giver. 

Maybe you could make it a point to give someone a smile, a handshake, a pat on the back, some good words; whatever you feel you can do today for someone else. 

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Stephanie Sharpe

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