Can you think of words people have said to you that have affected you? That have changed your life? I can. I remember the hurtful words of a jealous classmate, I remember the kind words of a caring teammate, I remember the shocking words of an angry friend, I remember the sweet words of a loving child.
As I remind my children constantly, YOUR WORDS MATTER. What you say (and write) counts, and affects the people around you, positively or negatively. What do you want the person receiving your words to feel? How do you want to be remembered?
Those brash emails and unthoughtful comments add up. They create a person’s opinion of who you are, what you stand for, and how they feel about interacting with you. Do you want people to dread meeting with you, to roll their eyes when they see your email come through, to put off calling you back for fear of what you may say?
Or do you want to leave people looking forward to the next time you meet?
I woke up this morning thinking about a conversation I had with my friend last night. My friend had worked all weekend, and his supervisor sent an email at the end of a long Sunday. She did not want to thank him or congratulate him on a job well done. Rather, she wanted to call out how he hadn’t sent an email… another team member had sent it instead. That was the only thing she had to say to him after he had worked 10+ hour days for many weeks.
Whether he should have sent the email or not is really not relevant, the point is this: In that instant, a little kindness would have gone a long way. It wouldn’t have cost her anything and would have increased the impact of her message. Instead of focusing on what she DID say, my friend took away what she DIDN’T say.
Today is World Kindness Day, which (according to Wikipedia) focuses on the positive power and the common thread of kindness which binds us. It really prompted me to share this thought:
Are you too busy to be kind? Is your email that important? Is your title or position that important that you can’t pause to think about how your words would affect the recipient? Are you too busy to think about how you would feel if YOU were the recipient of your own words?
As my children remind me constantly, THINK before you speak (or write). Is it Thoughtful? Helpful? Important? Necessary? KIND?
If not, don’t say it or write it. It’s truly that simple.