You would think, for a guy who has made his living for the last 38 years using words, I’d know better than to say some of the things that I say. Hopefully I could say “I have said,” as in the past.
I am learning a little about the power of words. Words are far more powerful than bombs and guns and cars and lightning. Words create and destroy worlds. Words form and shape reputations. Words actually call into existence things that don’t exist, as in “In the beginning God created.” God spoke, and it came to be.
So think about the power of words as you talk and relate to the people who matter in your life. And let me give you five things you should never say to anyone that matters. Maybe I should say, “never say to anyone.”
- Never say, “You never…” In the heat of the moment we look at a person and say, “You never do what you say you will do, you never show up, you never tell me you love me.” Those are absolute statements from which there is no return, and no reply that isn’t painful.
- Never say, “You always…” This is another overstatement of your emotion not intended to communicate or move the relationship or the project forward, but meant to hurt, to lay low. And the truth of the matter is all it really does is widen the gap between you and the person you’re speaking to.
- You should never say, “I can’t take it anymore.” C’mon, let’s be honest. You can’t take it anymore? Yeah, you can. You can take a lot more than you think you can. But “I can’t take it anymore” cuts off constructive conversation that might allow the relationship to go to a better place.
- Never say, “You’re going to regret this.” Whatever a person has done to you that causes you to feel this much anger to say that, may very well be the thing they intended to do, and they may never regret it. What you’re really saying is that you hope they will regret it.
- Never say to another living human being, “You’re worthless.” Let me tell you what I know for sure, after working with people on the deepest levels for my entire life. People already feel bad enough. All the bravado that we send out that says “I’m rough, tough, and hard to bluff” is a mask to cover up the fact that we feel stupid, lazy, unimportant, unloved, or undesirable. Never say, “You’re worthless.” You almost guarantee the end of the relationship. And that’s tough, particularly if you are working together and you depend on your livelihood from this source of employment.
Obviously there are many more things, but these are the ones that keep coming up in conversations, and I’m asking you to just say, “I will never say anything to another person that isn’t kind, good, and helpful.” My mantra for intelligent talking will be, “Be kind, be good, be helpful, or be quiet.”