“Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself…”Benjamin Franklin
How much would you speak if you spoke only what benefited others or yourself? Are you willing to take on this challenge for the week?
Don Miguel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements wrote, “Your word is the power you have to create…Through the word you express your creative power. It is through the word that you manifest everything…Your word is a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life.”
Dr Maya Angelou said, “Words are things, I’m convinced. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, in your clothes, and finally, into you. We must be careful about the words we use. Someday we will be able to measure the power of words.”
Do you have any doubts that words thought or spoken have great power to impact the lives of those who hear them? We may not have the science yet to prove it, but is there really any doubt?
Here’s a simple experiment. As you read the following words, try to follow the directions.
Whatever else you do, don’t think of a red apple. Lest you are not sure of the directions, I will repeat them, “don’t think of a red apple.”
For most people reading the words triggers the thought and creates an image. To follow the directions requires increased effort. There is power in words.
Now, let’s take this a step further: What are the words you say about yourself to yourself? Are they uplifting and encouraging or are you your own worst enemy? What you say to yourself repeatedly is what you will create.
Do you have to do cold calling? Cold calling is one of those activities that lands in my “I’d rather drink bleach” category of activities. The last few weeks I’ve had some cold calling to do. My friend Laurie came up to help. She suggested I ask the question “What if the person I talk to next loved the idea? What if I got the response I want?” By asking the “What if” question I got my mind to shift from fear and loathing to “I can do this!” It’s not surprising that I got more positive responses once I shifted my outlook.
What about what you say to others? Are your words beneficial? That immediately eliminates gossip, doesn’t it! I remember my mother saying, “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.” But, what if you’re an employer and you have an employee or a child you have to correct? How do you do that and remain positive in your speech? What if you’re angry with the employee or your kids? How do you remain positive?
Couple of suggestions:
- If you’re angry, you waited to long to speak up. Don’t speak in anger. Let your temper cool and give yourself time to think rationally. It may be that you have to tell the child to go to their room because you are angry with their behavior. It may be that you have to tell the employee that you are angry and you will speak to them when you’ve cooled down, but say nothing more til you have cooled off. Then take the time to recognize what was triggering your anger. How could you speak up sooner, rather than put it off til you are angry?
Laurence J Peters, formulator of “The Peter Principle” wrote, “Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” So cool off!
- Kenneth Blanchard in his book “One Minute Manager” has a system for correcting undesirable behavior of others. Begin with praise, then correct, then praise again. His book is a short read and well worth the time it takes. Along the same line of thinking, another principle to remember when correcting someone’s behavior, is “Praise in public, Correct in confidence (privately).
So this week’s tried and true key to success is to speak only those words that uplift and encourage. Are you up for the challenge? How will you track your success?
FYI: Benjamin Franklin, January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790, was one of the Founding Fathers of the US, a famous author, political theorist, politician, and diplomat to France on behalf of the US. What many don’t know is that he was born into severe poverty and he was the youngest of 13 children.