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27 Apr 2014

Hard Words Make Work Hard

Of all the 5 senses of the human being, speech and words are the most prevalent use. The other 4 senses are sight, touch, smell and taste.  

In this modern age, we have very good communication tools, like the internet and satellite.  It takes no time to send out news to the other side of the planet.  Yet it takes lots of time for people to truly understand what is communicated.  In fact communication has become very difficult.  Fathers cannot talk to children, managers cannot talk to their staff and salespeople do not talk to their customers.  In short, communication is blocked.  There is little listening.  

Many people do not realize that when we say something poisonous, they are more harmful than giving people poisonous food.  Also, words are more harmful than wars because at least you can prepare and defend in wars but people could spread bad words about you via social media and you could hardly stop it.  

In fact words have the power to stay on for years after they are spoken.  Think back of the harsh words that someone scolded you when you were young and you'll know what I'm talking about.  Our words are very powerful, wars are often started due to people using harsh or had words.  

As a manager or working professional, you know that hard words do not produce hard work.  Hard words cause work to be hard.  Hard words are often spoken due to anger, habits, ego, prejudice or simply out of ignorance.  Some people do not hesitate to poke fun at people, call people names or even gossip, for they feel that such little acts are 'just fun and quite harmless'. 

The reality is different.  What you consider as funny or harmless could be most hurtful to people for years.  When you shout, slander, curse, laugh at people, scold or even condemn people, you may give that person a complex, take away their purpose in life, make them feel lost, and in the worse situation, drive them to suicide.  In the office, people use hard words without realizing.  My goal is to give people enough reminders so that the next time they use words, they are more mindful of its negative effects and take care to not hurt people.  There are 7 ways that people use hard words that hurt people without knowing:
  1. Generalizing. When someone is irritated, we say he is furious.  The use of the word 'always' always caused great hurt as it makes people look bad with little chance of recovery.  
  2. Hinting.  This is more subtle, like hinting that you will be poor by referencing to another deprived person.  The issue with hinting is that it often points to the extremes, thus causing great suffering.
  3. Exaggerating.  Like making things worse than what it is. Like extrapolating people's bad situation
  4. Lying. White lies are often used without any feeling of guilt. The thing is that if you get into the habit of telling white lies, you will have to tell more lies to cover up the earlier lies.   So the hurt keeps on multiplying.
  5. Blame.  Blame is to put the onus on other people or situations.  Like the Korean ship that was overloaded and collapsed killing 200 people blamed 'market pressure on costs' . The issue is that the listener will feel more hurt as no one is now responsible.
  6. Comparing. This has similar effect as hinting, but is more direct.  The problem is that the comparison is never fair.  By making things worse than what it is, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  7. Never Listen.  This is beyond not hearing or listening to people's words.  It is the use of hard words that include jumping to conclusions, making prejudice comments, making false assumptions and most fatally, making dire predictions that take away people's confidence totally.  
By far this is the most hurtful and it is used most often because people never realize it at all.  They say, "I confront him for the reason and thus I did listen".  The problem is that when you confront him based on conclusion that you've already made, there is no way for this person to defend at all.  Like your staff is late for work and you asked him by saying, "Late again?  Today what is the reason?  MRT on fire?"  Such statements are definitely hard and harsh.  Do you think that the staff will be motivated after hearing this and put in more hard work?  Such words only make the work hard and hurt morale.  With lower morale, work will be affected.  

So my friend, the next time you open your mouth, use the key board, touch your touch screen or use the pen, be mindful. Do not use hard words that hurt people.  Use kind words that uplift people.  By Andy Ng of Asia Trainers, details of courses at here.  Related articles:
  1. The Sun Zi Way to Negotiate Effectively
  2. Mention this and the whole world listens to you
  3. The Best Communication in the World is Giving
  4. The SAD Way to Solve Problems
  5. An Advantage is Not a Benefit
  6. Meet the High Value Middle Manager
  7. Top 10 Ways to Add Value in Your Communication

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