We all seek acknowledgment and validation. It is part of what makes us human and what defines our human experience on this earth. For me, at work, I was always a fan for acknowledgment of a job 'well done'. In fact, the best piece of advice I ever had when I became a leader in an organization, was to say thank you to my team at the end of every day for the work they did. The initial response from some would be that they are being paid to be there anyway, so why say thanks? However, that view would change quickly once they realize, like many of us (me included), that words matter more than we think.
It is funny when you think of it like that - we pay each other an amount of currency to work each day, yet the fulfillment and satisfaction we each receive from a few kind words can outweigh that money in a moment. But why is that? What is it in the words that we hear, that make us resonate so much? What power or value do words hold and how does that affect us as humans? Psychologists have done plenty of tests to prove the power of the word on our psyche, but we seem to forget this when it comes to business, or even just our day to day lives. Not just the power of the word, but in this example, the power of 'kind words'. Why is it that we are all so scared of showing kindness in our words when we are in a position of ‘power’? Do we feel like it will diminish our power if we are kind to those that we perceive to be below us in the business hierarchy? Or is that we don’t hear it enough ourselves, that we are not conscious to repeat the things that would be so encouraging to hear with our own ears in the first place?
Recently, I have become more and more conscious of the power of the word, specifically the power of kindness in our words. I have always been conscious of it in the workplace, but as an entrepreneur, it is something you need to have as part of your own DNA, as you deal with people across all spectrums of life. Have you ever wondered about the physical impacts of the word on your body and soul? There have been numerous studies to prove the impact of the word on the molecular structure of water - remembering that our bodies are made up of 70% water! Many of these studies have seen a change in the water structure depending on the word associated with the sample. The outcomes were interesting too, with structures deteriorating for the samples with negative words attached, and the opposite effects for those words that were supportive and positive. Now studies like this do make you think; if it is, in fact, true, and given our bodies are made of such a high volume of water, then what are those words doing to us physically? And if words can affect a cup of water, could you imagine the effect these words are having on our human bodies every day? More so, what effect are your own words having on those around you?
If science isn't enough though, even many of the greatest prophets of our time have been reminding us of this for centuries. I could quote a hundred different passages, but one quote in particular that resonates perfectly for this topic is;
"A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men" - Bah'u'allah
Without going into depth on analyzing the scripture of a prophet, I found one simplified translation that seems to be most accurate for me with this example; 'Kind words are a magnet for the hearts of others'. Now, think about that... if kind words attract the hearts of others, then, quite obviously, the opposite effect is true for negative words. Does that mean negative words attract negativity? Or rather, does it mean that you lose the opportunity to attract the heart of others through speaking poorly with your chosen word? Either way, it doesn't sound like a life that flows easily with the universe. But with both science and spirituality in mind for this topic, what sort of impact do you think these snide comments, poor judgment calls, and negative remarks really have on each of us? What sort of impact does 'tough love' really have on that other person who is hearing it? What sort of impact does backbiting and gossip really have, not just on the receiving end, but even that of the person saying the words? And, more importantly, on the other end of the spectrum, what sort of effect do we now think saying "thank you" actually has for those that hear it?
My conclusion so far is that we underestimate the power of our words, and do not hold our 'words' to the same standard as we do with many others in our lives. The way we speak to others, about others, and even the way we speak to ourselves, has a far greater impact on the body and soul than we allow ourselves to be conscious of. If we chose to say "thank you", chose to ask politely, chose to forgive with care, chose to speak about people kindly (or say nothing at all), and if we removed one of the modern worlds biggest misconceptions, that 'kindness means weakness', we may find that the world we live in could be a far kinder place. I have become so conscious of this, especially when it comes to those that choose not to use kind words themselves, that I have decided the only way to create change is to change my own response first. So, if you agree, join me. Let's not respond to aggression with aggression, rudeness with anger, and ungratefulness with contempt. Rather, let's accept that those around may not be as aware of how these words are impacting them, and choose to respond how any person would want to have been spoken to in the first place; with kindness.