Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so he is. (2)
Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. (3)
This political season, we have seen the impact of words, especially in our “politically correct” culture. The core of truth behind that facade of “correctness” is that our words, written or spoken, have power. More power than we often realize.
I am moving through a personal journey where the parsing of words has created unanticipated consequences. It is not a pleasant experience. My take-away is that beyond the obvious meaning of choosing words that feed and nurture a person, as opposed to words that destroy a person, there is a subtly to communication that is sometimes missed.
Applied to leadership, I’m reminded that the leader who is full of jest, quick wit, “in-your-face” retorts must develop the discipline to know when that kind of confident, carefree speech is appropriate. Especially in this day of 140 character “speech” on social networking sites, something written with jest — not because one has something to say, but because one can say something — can easily be misunderstood because of the law of unintended consequences.
Developing the proficiency to speak in such a way that one limits the unintended consequences is a skill leaders must continually develop. I know how easy it is to quickly say what I’m thinking, instead of thinking before I say.
For the Christian leader, your words have eternal consequences: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Jesus Christ
Remember, the words we say will teach – if we practice what we preach.
What do you “preach” with your words?
(1) Proverbs 18:21 (MSG); (2) Publius Syrus; (3) Plato; (4) Matthew 12:36-38
Copyright ©2012 by P. Griffith Lindell