They say that everyone loves hearing the sound of their own name. In fact, if you take any type of training on sales or read any books on how to influence others, experts will usually suggest to you to try to use the customers name as much as possible. BUT, as a parent, the one thing I love to hear more than the sound of my own name is when my kids call me “Da-Da”. I have three boys and I can remember exactly when each of them said those words for the first time…and being competitive in nature, I am pleased to announce that each one of them said my preferred name, “Da-Da”, before they learned how to say, “Ma-ma” or anything else. And…since I have all boys, their 2nd word was…of course…”ball”…sorry honey.
Rather than bore you with details of my kids’ phonetic journey, let me get to the point. A couple of days ago, my 7 month old…and last kid my wife and I will bring into this world…said “Da-Da” for the first time. After bragging about this on Twitter, I realized something sobering. This was the last time I would hear those words for the first time.
Life flies by us quickly, and before you know it, your kids move on from saying “Da-Da” to “dad, can I have some money?” I love being a dad…and the one thing I have learned recently is that our words have a powerful effect, especially on our kids. In Proverbs, we are told that our words have the power of life and death. In other words [pun intended] what we say can either build up others or tear them down. The one who says, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” is in denial.
So, how do we build up our others around us, not just our kids, with the words that come out of our mouth? How do we ensure that our words bring with them the power of life and not death? There are two rules that we all should follow, and if we do, we will find that our words will not fall on deaf ears:
- Be slow to speak: This means to be intentional in what, how and where we say the things we say to others. Don’t just blurt out whatever first comes to your mind…BUT think about what and how your words or statement will affect the person you are speaking too. Don’t be a schmoozer, be honest…’cause all of us need people who speak truth into our lives, BUT do it with the motive to build up and breathe life, rather than trying to prove your superiority or position.
- Be quick to listen: Make sure that you are truly listening to those you communicate with…whether it’s your kids, an employee, volunteer, neighbor or spouse. When you listen, they will listen to you. When you care about what they are saying, they will, in most cases, care more about what you are saying. Don’t just think about what you are going to say next, BUT listen so that you can respond [not react] appropriately. Empathy is key here, and empathy starts with listening to others.
Easier said than done, right? If you follow these simple principles, you will find that those around you will “light-up” when you speak, just like a parent does when their kids says “Da-da” or “Ma-ma” for the first time. You will learn that people will actually want to hear what you have to say, just like how a parent bugs their 8 month old to say and repeat words over and over. You will see that people will want to listen, because what you say will mean much more to them just words.
So, what about you? How can you be more intentional with the words you speak? How does what others say to you affect your outlook on life or yourself?