The way you communicate is an important part of maintaining a positive public image. Through your interactions, people form opinions about who you are, your intentions and whether you can be trusted. Once someone forms an initial opinion of you, it’s difficult for them to change that impression. That’s why it’s essential to understand the power of your words.
The news is filled with stories of how a prominent person has said something that may cost them their job, customers or relationships. Across industries, there are instances where individuals say whatever comes to their minds without any thought of how their audience would be affected or the consequences that follows. Very recently we have seen this type of behavior in the sports, entertainment and political worlds. There are too many instances to count that I have shaken my head and wondered What were they thinking?
It was just a couple of years ago that a former sports owner’s poor choice of words overshadowed what is one of the greatest sports events in the world. The fallout was intense as he was forever banned from attending the games of the team he once owned.
The owner argued that he spoke these words during a private heated discussion. He reasoned that everyone has more or less made racist comments before and no matter how disgusting the comments, he should not be required to sell the team. I’ve read that this was not the first time this particular owner made these types of comments and that he should be have been banned from the League a long time ago.
The takeaway lesson is that it’s the subtle threats to your organization’s reputation are more likely to harm your organization’s shareholder value.
Likewise, the hints of a flawed character in a leader can easily be overlooked if the leader is increasing the bottom line. However, long-term, the leader can cause extensive damage because the organization will lose the trust of those that matter: the shareholders – the employees, the clients, and the stockholders.
Your Words Have Power
Words can be used to heal, guide and unfortunately, destroy. A leader must be able to choose their words wisely to support the vision of the company. Your employees look to you for guidance and it will ultimately be you who will be responsible for the environment you create within your organization.
If you use words that incite fear, disrespect, and contempt; then your team will respond accordingly and I promise you, it will reach the end-user – your customer in terms of poor customer service.
A great man once said that your words reveal what kind of heart you possess: “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45 NIV). A person can only go so long hiding one’s true values. Their character will manifest in the form of words and actions.
Effective leaders understand the power of words and the power of silence.
How does your view of your employees, your organization, and your world affect your speech?