The use of the spoken word, particularly in business, has been a fascination for me over the years. I have regularly observed the impact negative words and how they are delivered have on relationships, both in a personal context as well as business. In fact, extremely successful businesses literally collapse over night with the unfortunate misuse
of the spoken word.
Richard Carlson put it this way: ” When we judge or criticise another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.”
Negative words often take the form of character judgement first and foremost, we simply default to attacking someone’s character above all else and the only consequence of this is that the person has no way out…..attacking or judging character leaves no room for a positive outcome, it becomes a label. For example, If I accuse someone of being a liar that’s a judgement on their character and labels them, a label that is almost impossible to shake particularly when it is in the public domain and particularly when it is in business as reputation counts for so much in our dynamic and ever changing culture.
However, If my language were to simply draw attention to the ‘act’ of lying it gives the person the opportunity to resolve the situation and does not condemn them with the label (character) of being a liar. We are offering them understanding, the opportunity to correct the situation and move forward in a positive manner.
"Any fool can criticise, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” Dale Carnegie
There are times, figuratively (and sometimes literally), I bite my tongue when I am on the verge of saying something negative to a person. I do so knowing that resisting the urge to speak my mind helps me show consideration for others, uphold my values, and maintains my reputation.
Do not, however, confuse speaking of someone in a derogatory way with participating in a formal critique, such as job appraisals for the purpose of helping someone improve in certain areas. In these instances, use tact and diplomacy to focus on performance issues and always avoid personal attacks (judgements) on their character.
As a coach the spoken word has significant implications for me in my work, it can build up or rip down, and I work hard every day to ensure I choose to build people up, to help them ‘hear’ the right words so they ‘think’ the right things….. and we all know what we ‘think’ we become.