The Power Behind Our Words

September 5, 2017

We all remember the old “sticks and stones” adage our parents taught us back in grade school—the perfect defense mechanism to shield ourselves from playground bullies and hallway gossip. Maybe perhaps there are some exceptions to the notion that “words can never hurt you.”

Part of our culture here is understanding that words carry influence. It impacts the rapport we work so hard to maintain with our peers and those we service. Though we don’t always like to admit it, we can all benefit from being more cognizant of the words we’re choosing to share. We often underestimate the power behind our words—shrugging off the idea that our voice alone could ever effect change, good or bad. But, we all possess the authority to alter someone’s disposition through our words.

A recent study showed that people are less likely to speak up when they’re hurt by the words of their colleagues. They, in turn, harness that pain and pass it on. But if we all commit to doing our fair share, we collectively combat the hurtful behavior—creating a more harmonious and uplifting environment. When used constructively, our words have the ability to heal and inspire those around us.

Take our annual January Town Hall Leadership awards for example. We’re always excited to hand this honor over to several exemplary individuals who have shown outstanding leadership quality over the passing year. As many of you are well-aware, nominations are made by peers of those who are impactful in their work and attitude. And, it’s all done through the power of your words. You send us your nominations, speaking highly of your coworkers and highlighting their wonderful talents and achievements. We listen, consider your input, and choose the deserving recipients—reinforcing the understanding that your words carry a heavy weight.

Dr. Hyder Zahed, contributor for the Huffington Post, put it perfectly, “…speak words that are beacons of inspiration, enthusiasm and encouragement to all.” And that’s exactly what some of our teams are doing. They’re utilizing their built-in dry-erase boards to embrace newcomers; welcoming them with vibrantly-written messages like: Welcome aboard! So glad you’re here! Welcome to OneDigital!!! 

And it doesn’t stop with our newbies; I can barely step foot out of my office without seeing congratulatory messages for graduations, weddings or new baby announcements. There are even a few short quotes written specifically to encourage passersby.

It’s refreshing to see teams usher in that sense of support and togetherness. It’s that exact comradery that allows us to thrive even in the midst of our toughest trials. So, I challenge you to do just that! Send a positive message to someone (client or colleague), be it email, post-it note, handwritten note – or even a WOW. Your words can make a difference.   

-Elizabeth Chrane, EVP HR & Culture


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