August 17; It’s Only Words. And Words Are All I Have. To Take Your Heart Away
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Eight: Communication; 17 August

…a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1b

It’s Only Words. And Words Are All I Have. To Take Your Heart Away.*

Words

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the USA from 1901 to 1908, was a big game hunter who once took a yearlong African safari. He was an inquisitive life-long learner who said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” (Wikipedia)

***

The history of leadership suggests that gentle words usually deliver the best results.

Words should be diplomatic expressions. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says, “Paradoxically, where words are concerned soft is powerful and hard is ineffective.” (Bishops)

The manager and marketers use words as tools to advance organizational goals. Words help us transfer emotion. The manager will spend most of his or her day communicating.

The Individual Contributor does all the work; the boss talks about it all day. This is Management.

The words you choose matter. Rough-Riding cowboys would give warning on the careful use of “fightin’ words.” Bar-fight etiquette of the Wild West used the emoticon of its day: “smile when you say that.”

The Fairer Gender is well attuned to nuance. A woman can be a “kitten.” But let’s not call her “catty.”

Ritz Crackers tested words for a new product. They found that “Baked” is good for chicken but not for chips. “Toasted” was the better word.

Marketing managers in the middle of the 1900’s understood words. Dye job is bad; hair coloring is good notes historian William Manchester. (Manchester 1973)

Names and naming matters. The letters ‘KIA’ make any Vietnam-era veteran cringe. “Killed in Action” would seem to be a harsh name for an automobile. But the phrase is of a different time and has new meaning in a new generation. But not to the demographic bracketing Your Business Professor.

Kentucky Fried Chicken? “Fried” is not a good word in today’s market. And the initialed KFC is shorter. And shorter is better as pollster and best-selling author Frank Luntz, Ph.D. in his book, Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear, reminds us of the Winston Churchill quote, “ Broadly speaking, short words are the best, and old words best of all.” (Frank Luntz 2007)

“Abortion” is another unhealthy word as the pro-abortion organization NARAL might suggest. The group used to be known as “National Abortion Rights Action League.”

Phrases matter. Soft and good: “When I’m with her, time stands still.” Harsh and bad:

“She has a face that could stop a clock.”

***

Your Business Professor has a line drawing of HMS Victory over his desk; a profile of the hull of the ship that Lord Nelson made famous in the sea battle at Trafalgar against the French; against Napoleon. The English won, as usual.

And this is where USA leadership gets the Global War on Terror wrong: Men won’t die in combat for “Success in Iraq.” They will sacrifice and die for “Victory.”

We don’t have “Success in Jesus.” We have Victory.

***

President Teddy (TR) Roosevelt, enshrined on Mount Rushmore, would speak softly, persuasively, diplomatically to foreign governments but his words had a “big stick” behind them. This would be the same instrument he took hunting. “Big Stick” is what Roosevelt called his .405 Winchester rifle. (Stream)

… a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1b

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*It is never good form to correct the grammar in a love song. Matters of the heart transcend subject-verb agreement. (Gees 1968)

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9 Responses

  1. Molly M says:

    Words, phrasing, and intent all matter. Each of these is demonstrated in the quotes used in this blog post.

    We live in a day and age where words, and phrasing are scrutinized for hours on end. Take, for example, John McEnroe, former tennis professional-turned-commentator’s words about Serena Williams this past week. “Well because if she was in, if she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world,” (NPR). I have heard about his quote on no less than 3 podcasts, 2 ESPN shows, and a newspaper article. His words and phrasing were not well thought out, and they outweighed his overall intent.

    McEnroe likely did not intend to create this controversy when he agreed to an interview with NPR, and yet his words and phrasing overrode his intent, and left him in hot water. McEnroe’s flippant wording and phrasing are what pundits and commentator’s are debating for hours on end, not his intent.

    Words matter. Phrasing matters. It’s important that we, as a society make a concerted effort to use appropriate wording and phrasing. Think twice before answering a question, or using a word or phrase that could be offensive. It could make a difference.

  2. Arturo Mancilla says:

    When I was walking the other day, I was surprised when I saw a parent with a t-shirt that said: “Let’s Eat Kids. Let’s Eat, Kids. Punctuation Saves Lives!” I thought it was cleaver and at the same time funny. I said to myself when I have a kid I will definitely will have a shirt like that.
    Nowadays Words matter. Our words have a great impact on a person for good and bad. As managers, we can improve the team’s performance or we can tell them something bad that we didn’t mean as it will affect their performance. It is very complicated to reverse this situation, unless you replace it with positives thoughts and words.
    In words of Jeff Goins about Words matter “Sticks and stones may crack up a few bones, but the wrong words in your head will your break your spirit forever”.
    As a leader, you set the sound track for your business. If what you talk all day about problems, then, your people will assume that this is the way you see the company as a whole. If your dialogue is all about money, your team will assume that’s the primary purpose of your organization.
    If you want to be a top tier leader, you need to focus your conversations on how your business improves life for your customers. It will be more motivating for your team, and you’ll be more likely to create competitive differentiation.
    For better and for worse, our words signal our values and beliefs.

  3. Mike C says:

    Words are the core of our verbal and written communication. Without words, our society would be communicating using only non-verbal means, or grunting at each other. Words are important.

    Every day we have the power to express ourselves. It’s a matter of stringing words together into sentences in a grammatically correct fashion to create the next literary masterpiece. Words can be verbalized through speech or in written form. The United States Constitution guarantees that you have the right to express yourself through “freedom of speech,” to say what it is you want to say.

    Words and sentences are used to express one’s thoughts, ideas, and emotions, like anger, joy, and sorrow. Through speech, one uses their intonation, pitch, and word choice to vary the emotional emphasis of a message. This message can have a positive or negative impact on its recipient(s), all created from the chosen words and the presentation of these words.

    Words can and do evolve over time. The meaning of a word can completely change over generations of time, where a new interpretation is associated with an existing word, such as the word “nice”. Depending on how the word is used nowadays, it can be used to express something “cool,” “neat,” or “sexy,” which are all words that were hardly ever, if at all, associated with the word “nice” thirty years ago. Words are important in every sense of the word.

  4. The words we choose matter. Although relationships with others can be complicated and confusing, words give us the ability to express ourselves and connect with others. Words are among the most powerful tools we have available to us.

    The words you utter as a leader sets the tone for your entire organization. The words of the Declaration of Independence inspired a country. Dr. Martin Luther King’s words ignited a movement. Think of the power of words strung together such as “18 million cracks” and “I have a dream”. These words matter. They built unity. From these words, hope grew and changed the world.

    However, sometimes professionals don’t put much thought in what comes out of their mouths each day. Take for instance the controversy that started on June 17, 2017, when comedian Steve Harvey took a call from a Flint, Michigan man who said…”Cleveland didn’t deserve anything following the Cavaliers loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals.” Harvey responded…”you from Flint? That’s why you all don’t have clean water. When was the last time you touched water that didn’t have lead in it? Enjoy your nice brown glass of water.” To many, Harvey’s words mattered. The mayor of Flint, Michigan took offense to Harvey’s comments and is requesting a public apology. Many people on social media were also upset by the words spoken by the comedian. Steve Harvey’s comeback was that he was “just joking and didn’t mean it.” Sometimes words just hurt. And we who use them have a responsibility to do so with an awareness of the impact they may have. Negative words, from someone in the public’s eye, are so powerful that we often hear them long after the talking stops.

    On a more personal note, some words evoke emotion such as sadness and pride together. I’d like to remember an ordinary young man on Flight 93 who became a hero to so many by his courageous final act when he said two simple words…”Let’s Roll”.

  5. Debby Lee says:

    Communicating effectively in the workplace is constantly evolving but one thing remains the same: the need to choose our words carefully. We, as a society, need to take a step back and assess how we communicate, in both our personal life and the workplace.

    Increase in technological advances has been both a blessing and a curse to the means of communication in the workplace. For those who are not comfortable with face-to-face conversations or public speaking, an e-mail could get the job done. However, an increased presence of information online means messages can be easily shared as well. Other than e-mails, anything you post online is there and will be there…forever! Even if you delete online content, it is never “truly gone.” You can actually retrieve deleted content by doing a search for cached items. Be careful about the words you post online (especially if they’re associated with your name) because it could potentially be an issue during a background investigation for a future employer.

    When communicating face-to-face, diction is only half the battle. The tone, or how you say something, is crucial as well. You could have the perfect message but your tone could make or break the execution of your message.

  6. Lauren R says:

    Growing up, my Mother always warned me to be careful with my words–sometimes, we can say things that we can’t take back. Growing up Black, I also learned that the old adage, “sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was also false.

    There is a reason why the phrase, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” has stuck around for so long. The words we choose to convey our thoughts, emotions, feelings, messages can cut like a knife or soothe the most hurt heart. Words have power and understanding how to wield that power is an important life lesson and can make a difference in whether you bring positive or negative into the world. Martin Luther King, Pope Francis, Mother Theresa, Jesus, Ghandi, Sojourner Truth…these are people who created a lasting legacy by harnessing the power of words for good, to inspire, to heal, to create bonds. These are people who understood how powerful words can be when wielded with care and intent.

    Unfortunately, some professionals understand how to use the power of words for negative. Take my boss, for example. She certainly knew the power of intensely personal, intensely insulting words to bring people to heel in order to make herself feel more powerful. On the other hand, you have speeches that have endured for generations because the power, hope, love, and strength conveyed in the speech watered the seeds of hope and created real change around the world.

    I think some of this is attributable to the way communication has changed. Texting, emails, snapchats, and the like have changed the way we interact and speak to each other. However, a good manager, a true leader, understands and respects the power of words and uses them to inspire and lead instead of attack and degrade.

  7. Debby L says:

    Communicating effectively in the workplace is constantly evolving but one thing remains constant: the need to choose our words carefully. We, as a society, need to take a step back and assess how we communicate, in both our personal life and the workplace.

    Increase in technological advances has been both a blessing and a curse to the means of communication in the workplace. For those who are not comfortable with face-to-face conversations or public speaking, an e-mail could get the job done. However, an increased presence of information online means messages can be easily shared as well. Other than e-mails, anything you post online is there and will be there…forever! Even if you delete online content, it is never “truly gone.” You can actually retrieve deleted content by doing a search for cached items. Be careful about the words you post online (especially if they’re associated with your name) because it could potentially be an issue during a background investigation for a future employer.

    When communicating face-to-face, diction is only half the battle. The tone, or how you say something, is crucial as well. You could have the perfect message but your tone could make or break the execution of your message.

  8. JMK says:

    Without words, we cannot express ourselves, and we cannot communicate with one another. Words have a strong impact on others and us. This power that we have in our mouths can motivate people or break them; therefore, we have to choose our words carefully and think about how others may understand and analyze them before saying or writing them.

    People usually tend to remember negative words more than positive ones and they easily get affected by them. It is in the human nature that negative words and events have greater impact on people than the positive ones. Negative words can produce negative feelings and call for more thinking in which impacts the receiver by reducing his/her productivity. Moreover, these words take more time to go away from someone’s mind than positive words.

    Hence, managers have to think carefully before giving any feedback to their employees. They have to be aware of their words and the effect they may have, and they need to learn how to filter information before passing them to the employees. In most cases, employees will not take harsh criticism positively or use it to enhance their performance; it will only cause a setback in their performance and may damage the relationship with the manager. Therefore, managers need to learn how to communicate effectively with their employees and find solutions to improve their performance instead of criticizing them and pointing out their mistakes, as Henry Ford said once, “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”

  1. July 13, 2017

    […] Week 7  Words https://www.yoest.com/2016/03/03/august-17-its-only-words-and-words-are-all-i-have-to-take-your-heart… […]

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