Speak no evil

Our words carry enormous weight more than we sometimes think. They often impact people for decades either by providing the courage to press on or more reasons to give up.

At work some weeks back, a friend of mine came to me and asked why I wasn’t calling anymore as usual and I jokingly said my phone wasn’t in a good condition. This wasn’t true though. Later, I told him I have been busy with work and school activities. Here is my point, my phone was in a good condition and I have used the phone for a year with no issues at all. Few minutes later, I needed my phone to make a call and discovered the phone was faulty – the speakers weren’t working anymore. My words went into action immediately. I remembered the words I spoke some minutes back and how I jokingly said my phone wasn’t in a good condition. The impact of my words has come to play and even machines that we make definitely respond to spoken words.

It just goes to show you how powerful words can be. A careless word can misalign one’s destiny for many years.

  1. Wholesome words are timely.

The right words at the wrong time can be just as damaging as the wrong words. When someone experiences a major setback or disappointment, for example, we need to be careful not to dismiss their pain or frustration. Likewise, it’s usually a bad idea to lecture about what they could or should have done differently. Words left unsaid can also be hurtful. I once worked for a man, who literally never acknowledged, affirmed or praised my performance. He always only acknowledged my mistakes. An encouraging word would have cost him nothing and meant the world to me but he didn’t do it. As leaders, it takes discernment to know when and if to speak. The right word spoken at the right time can make all the difference for someone.

  1. Wholesome words provide grace.

I take this as more than merely being generous or accommodating although both are important. I see grace as also the power of God to do His will. Our words can either empower people, make them want to press on or diminish them until they quit.

I remember going through a horrific business failure. I lost everything. I didn’t have two nickels to rub together and I had no clue how I was going to provide for myself. I called my dad, and his words provided grace. They were just what I needed: reassuring, encouraging, confidence-building, and more. That call was like Red Bull for my soul. It gave me the energy to hang in and keep fighting. And it gave me the grace I needed to do the next right thing for my life, my business, and my future.

King Solomon said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Every day, we are shaping reality for someone with our words. You know this already. You have felt it. Sometimes, it was subtle, but you knew it was there. The potency of words is immeasurable and unmistakeable.

If you look back on your life then you can recall moments when you felt the brutal sting of words.

When the other kids called you “fat.”

When that boy dumped you for no reason.

When your dad called you “stupid.”

When you received that letter of rejection.

When your boss told you that you were fired.

When someone told you that cancer is “God’s will.”

When your wife asked when you were going to get a real job.

It’s your turn now. Say something worth saying. Don’t give in to the temptation to just fight back, to return an angry voice by raising your own. Don’t join the crowd of hurting people hurting other people. Instead, use your words for something powerful and subversive.

Be the person who says something when no one else is. Be brave. Dare to speak and have something worth talking about. Start a revolution with your words.

Talk is not cheap. Talk can be valuable. Talk can be rich and worthwhile.

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