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The Power of Words

InTouch - Newsletter - #71

Welcome to the seventy-first edition of “In-Touch”. As always, I would love to continue the conversation so please let me know what you think by clicking here.

Story of the Week: "The Power of Words"

A few weeks ago, I walked into a restaurant where a group of businesspeople were gathered at the same table. Seeing a friend of mine among them, I stopped to greet him. That was when I recognized the CEO of a prominent organization, whom I had contacted on LinkedIn a few months earlier, congratulating her on an interview she had given and, in the process, telling her about my business services. She had then thanked me for contacting her but politely explained that her company’s needs were already covered by another external consultant.

I, in turn, thanked her for her reply and said that I hoped we might meet in person someday. That moment had now unexpectedly arrived, so I duly greeted her and introduced myself. To my great – and unpleasant – surprise, she cheerfully replied so that everyone around the table could hear, “Yes, I know who you are. You’re the one who made advances on me through social media!”

Shocked by the insinuation of her remark and needing to clarify what she really meant, I smiled broadly and quickly told the group: “Don’t worry, everyone, I'm happily married! By 'advances,' our mutual acquaintance means business advances, not romantic ones!” Laughter erupted at the table and I left them to enjoy their meal but, for the rest of the day, I was at a loss to understand why this extremely successful executive should have suggested – even as a joke – to a group of businesspeople who may or may not have known me that I might have acted unprofessionally or worse towards her.

In business, as in life generally, it is not only wise to avoid hurting another person’s feelings through badly chosen words but essential to maintain our own reputation for being fair and proper in everything we do.

Fortunately, humour – when used appropriately – is often one of the best responses when we are feeling offended by someone’s words, whether they were spoken with or without any ill-fated intent. It diffuses the tension of the situation, undercuts any perceived insult and brings any third parties onside.

The American writer Yehuda Berg says that “Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”

With those seven powers available, let’s make sure we always use our words wisely!

Words of Wisdom

“Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day.” Anonymous

A Question to Ponder, Michael

“Have you ever had to use humour to ‘rescue’ a situation?”