Stop Shooting Yourself in the Foot
Foolish words nullify hard work and good intentions;
stop shooting yourself in the foot.
Leaders get ahead by speaking well and working hard. You need both. I’m focusing on words not work, today.
Foolish words cost. You know you’ve spoken foolishly when you’re expending time and energy correcting false impressions, wrong assumptions, and negative conclusions.
Wise words clarify and inspire. Foolish words distract, confuse, and de-motivate.
If you aren’t building-up, shut-up;
even if you’re correcting.
A couple weeks ago I said, “Frank, Joe wouldn’t have asked something like that.” (Names changed) I made a negative comparison between two leaders.
I was pressing Frank to take charge but I spoke foolishly. Frank hasn’t said anything about it but I haven’t forgotten. I’m embarrassed when I remember. The next time we’re alone, I’m apologizing.
Never make negative comparisons between people.
Negative comparisons don’t inspire they deflate. To his credit, however, Frank remains fully engaged. I’m apologizing, regardless.
Many struggle with change. Just hearing the term “change” sets them on alert. Say, “We’re improving,” rather than, “We’re changing.” Improving expresses change with a positive twist.
Wise words express positive intent.
Don’t imagine that shifting verbiage from “changing” to “improving” prevents all the struggles associated with change. It’s one way to establish tone, however.
Words without work are empty. On the other hand, the quality of our words establishes our quality of life. Wise words build up and give life. Foolish words tear down.
- Determine to enrich others with your words.
- Temper the need to talk with silence and listening.
- The benefit of others is the only reason to speak tough words.
- Even when you think you know, ask for counsel before speaking publicly.
How can you tell when you’ve heard wise words?
Have you seen a leader who used words wisely? What did they do?
Dan, very insightful. I’ve managed to totally ruin all credibility with people simply by choosing some of the wrong words. And it only takes one time. –Dallas
Thanks for pointing out that long hours of hard work can be ruined with one short burst of unwise speech. It doesn’t seem fair but it’s true.
Don´t be so hard on yourself.
Everybody makes mistakes all the time.
To admit it and say you´re sorry takes courage, but it´s so valuable as learning!
Keep up the good work! 🙂
Your best posts and lessons occur when you share your own blunders. Thank you.
I say things to my children that I would never say to my students…not horrible things but….shame on me. My children deserve at least all the respect I give my students.
I say things negative things to myself that I would never say to any other human.
It’s a full time job to watch our words, even the silent ones. We must be vigilant…and even harder…forgive ourselves when we fail.
Dauna, thanks for the good word and for sharing your own journey.
I never thought about this post with the things I say to myself in mind. KaPow! Great application. Give yourself the kindness you’re giving to others.
What a great post, Dan…and validating reply, Dauna. Words are so difficult for me…especially because I love them so much!!
Not only might we use the wrong words…we just might ise words too much…take up too much air time. Just like I’m doing right now. 😃
Thank you for telling me more about this tendency. Once I am cognizant of things like this, I’m much better at making the right choices.
The director of our school board hosted a live webcast where he asked every single employee to report to a site, listen to his webcast, and then break out into discussion groups. I felt like he used his words wisely, by simply choosing to use the word YOU, throughout his speech. It felt like he was talking to me one on one and not to thousands of others. Also, his purpose was to share a new vision and he was able to weave that slogan into his speech seamlessly, over and over. EACH STUDENT, EVERYDAY. I think he capitalized on the rare opportunity of having the grand audience that he did. Every single employee in the board and he spoke to each and every one of us. We felt valued. Great leadership on that day.
yup, I have a foot wound from this week too. ugh.
It’s one of those things that after the words are out they can’t be pulled back…
Words are powerful. They can so easily lift up or pull down. Sometimes words or phrases we consider innocuous have a staying power that would keep us from ever uttering those words if we knew. the end result. Talking less and listening more is an area I continue to struggle with. Another point I try and remember before speaking … Get to neutral. Get my thoughts and emotions under control first, then speak.
Another great point… speaking in emotional heat has gotten me in trouble. Thankfully, I have some people around me who can bear my venting words.
So true. Words matter, whether you’re an adult in the corporate world or just a kid. It only takes a moment to tear someone down and an eternity to build them up, so much better to be building from the start 🙂 Great post, as ever, Dan, thank you!
Thank you for the encouraging word, Vanessa. I can’t tell you how long it took me to realize I wasn’t building others up with my speech. If you aren’t going to build up…shut up. Even when you’re correcting.
Reblogged this on Passionate Performance and commented:
I am a huge fan of Dan Rockwell and his Leadership Freak blog. When I read his blog this morning, I had to share with you. Words are powerful. They easily lift up or tear down. I hope you enjoy Dan’s words as much as I do.
Incredible photo … captivating.
gotta love words and realize they can love us.
A good eye-opening post & the great lessons. I liked your unusual honest statement ‘Good leaders go ahead by speaking well and working hard’. Also, ‘Never make comaprisons between people [particularly with negative remarks]’.
I have seen good leaders always speaking well about their superiors, colleagues & subordinates in public. But, they have the courage to point out weaknesses and limitations with possible solutions. They are honest to themselves and always look for the larger [organization] interest. Diplomatic leaders are tempted to use flattery and work selfishly. They get exposed sooner or later and pay for their acts of foolishness.
Good leaders have a consistency in their work and well saying. It needs a great amount of maturity and a habit of being good to all with speaking and doing acts.
Thank you Dr. Asher. Your distinction between public words and private words is helpful.
Speaking well in public doesn’t have to be lying… we can find good things to say or if we can’t we can be quiet.
great stuff I really enjoy all the post.
Thanks for taking the time to leave a good word. Much appreciated.
I almost changed my Google Chat status to, \”If you aren’t building-up, shut-up.\” but I thought better of it. Ha! Instead, \”the quality of our words establishes our quality of life. Wise words build up and give life. Foolish words tear down.\” suites me better. I read your posts every day. It\’s the only one I allow to hit my in-box. I don\’t tell you as often as i should how much I appreciate you, Dan. I do. Thank you!
Thank you Chris. I’m honored by your kind words.
I’m a bit uncomfortable with “If you aren’t building up, shut up.” But I like to say things as directly as possible. 🙂 The problem with the sentence is it doesn’t sound like it’s a good building up statement.
Like a searing knife…thanks, Dan. I don’t remember exactly when I had this lesson come home most vividly, but the bottom line was one of my directors sharing with me that my sarcasm got me into lots of trouble. I thought I was being funny. Most others who didn’t know me thought I was being an _ _ _. When I came to see their view, it took my breath away. I was embarrassed, this was so far from who I wanted to be seen as. Ouch! But that started the journey of understanding the impact of my words and working to build up rather than tear down. There are times it is still work in progress.
My encouragement for all you other comedians out there who think sarcasm is funny…it can be, but normally at someone’s expense. Find another way to relate, to be funny. I haven’t found anyone who has been the victim of sarcasm that thinks its okay. This is even true in families. Sometimes we just don’t know how to relate and share important information/feelings in a compassionate sensitive way. We don’t know how to have hard conversations so we inject humor. But we can all learn.
Isn’t there a better way? I know for me there was.
I think I’ll say thanks Jim but your comments on sarcasm did a little stick and twist job on me. I’m with you, sarcasm is my favorite form of humor…but not everyone thinks its funny!! I still work to manage it. Thanks for returning the favor.. 🙂
Dan, somehow you almost always say what I need to hear. How do you do it?
My daughter in law has this posted on the refrigerator for her family:
Before you speak – THINK, is what you are saying True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind? The grandkids have that memorized. Sometimes it helps – us all.
Thank you Glenn…
Yes indeed… it helps us all.. for me all I need are the first four words. “Before you speak…think”
Perhaps we could say, “just slow down.” Frankly, I tend to speak too quickly and too much.
Reblogged this on applyingyou and commented:
Excellent blog, did a talk on this subject in London yesterday. Amazing how many people ignore the language they use or dismiss it without realising how empowering the right use of words can be.
I really enjoyed your post. I wish more people would take the time to think before they speak. Maybe then, there would be less “tearing down” and more “building up.” I was already following your Tweets, but now I will follow your blog. Great content.
Very good insight.