Words Can Heal


Words and Bosses

Although few of us define ourselves as "bosses," most of us at least sometimes are in the position of telling other people what to do. We may be supervisors in the workplace, employers of domestic help, teachers, parents, or experienced workers showing the ropes to new employees. When we think of the power "the boss" wields, we may not realize that the boss’s greatest power is the way he or she uses words. By one’s choice of words, a "boss" can build up or tear down another human being.

Words that heal are good for the boss, for the employee, and for the morale of the whole workplace. So isn’t it worth paying as careful attention to the way we speak as to the way we dress?

Quote of The Week

“Speaking nicely to your workers promotes positive energy, which promotes productivity, which promotes profits, which may end up . . . promoting you!"


Linda was married for 33 years to a man who verbally abused her. "I was so torn down," she wrote in her letter to WCH, "that I never thought I could come back up again." Four years ago, Linda, aged 51, separated from her husband, moved to a different state, and left her nursing career for a job as an Assistant Property Manager of a 144-unit apartment building.

Her new boss was a young man named David. "My boss has given me more than my husband ever did in 33 years of marriage," wrote Linda. "He has given me back my self esteem. And how? By always saying the right words, words that heal. I learned from David that it is all right to make mistakes, because no one will yell at me or call me names or degrade me in any way. Every day is a healing process for me. I am so grateful I can get up and go to a job that I love, where no one will put me down. I will never be able to thank my boss enough."

Amelia Bedilia's Boss

Employees who feel good about themselves are most likely to produce good work, as we see from the following letter, received from a WCH member who does not consider herself a boss, but nevertheless is one.

I am a potter who works in a studio adjacent to my house. I hired a woman named Nan to cook for my family and do light housekeeping. Nan reminds me of “Amelia Bedelia.” She is a very nice person who cooks really well, but makes a lot of careless mistakes, which really grate on my perfectionist nature.

Last week I was under pressure for a deadline. I bought a pound of mushrooms and told Nan, somewhat tensely, to make a big pot of mushroom soup, quadrupling the recipe. When the soup was all finished, I walked into the kitchen and found most of the mushrooms sitting there in their boxes. “What’s this?” I shrieked, horrified.

"Well," Nan replied nervously, "they’re left over. The recipe only called for a quarter of a cup."

"A quarter of a pound," I corrected her, trying to control myself from really tearing into her.

Later that day I thought about it, and realized that I am perpetuating a cycle of exactly the kind of behavior I don’t want. My terse, critical attitude makes Nan feel nervous and flustered, which causes her to make more mistakes.

So the next day when Nan came in apologizing profusely about the mushrooms, I gave her a warm smile and told her, "Don’t worry about it. Everybody makes mistakes." (And I tried to remember that that includes me.) I complimented her cooking and told her that the family had really enjoyed the meal she made. Then I spent a couple minutes inquiring earnestly about her apartment problems. The result? Nan was relaxed and happy, and she made no mistakes that day. It was a win-win situation.

A Letter from Nepal

The boss’s power to use words to change those "under him" is superseded only by the boss’s power to change himself. The following letter was received by a Words Can Heal member in Nepal:

I run a small export company -- mainly handmade Tibetan carpets. I am by nature impulsive and must get things done my way. In the process, I would often end up using harsh words when things went wrong. This not only hurt the feelings of my employees, but also hurt my own inner conscience. For a long time, I have been thinking I must change. But this remained only a thought.

Some time back I saw a TV program on Words Can Heal. It immediately caught my attention. I surfed the Internet and located your website. Reading the handbook gave me the necessary encouragement to change my self. I decided that from then onwards instead of saying to a worker who had made a mistake: “Is this what I told you to do? Don’t you get paid?” I would use words like: “Good attempt. We will do it better next time.”

My employees noticed the change in my language and could not understand what had happened. I could not wait to tell them, “I am a changed man. I am a member of Words Can Heal. I have decided to speak with words that heal.”

I am happy to let you know that I am seeing very positive results as a result of my using healing words. My employees are happier, but I am the happiest one.

Tips for Bosses

1. Recognize that the person you are directing (employee, coworker, student, child) is a human being.

2. Recognize that you have the power to build up or destroy this person with your words.

3. Remember that the more you make others feel good, the better the work they will produce.

4. Particularly during an economic decline, when people are nervous about lay-offs, it’s vital to speak kindly to your colleagues. This builds teamwork and positive energy, which maximizes overall performance, which increases productivity, which will ultimately increase the chances of you keeping your job.

Source: Brought to you by www.verticalresponse.com Visit www.WordsCanHeal.org for more ideas on how to heal with words. And spread the word! Send this message out today -- together we can make a difference!

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