The late great author and poet, Maya Angelou once said, “Words are things.” You can put certain words together and cause someone to fall in love with you. String another set of words together and you can start a war. The Bible teaches us that the power of life and death are in the tongue. Words are things. Powerful things. As we begin a new year, we are resolving to lose weight, make more money and maybe find love. But perhaps the most critical change we can make is one that can have the most prolific and valuable effect on every area of our lives. We should begin to pay more attention to what comes out of our mouths instead of focusing on what we put in it. The old adage we were all taught as children that says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” is not true. Words hurt. Words can cut deeper than any knife; inflicting wounds that can last a lifetime. Want to change your life? There are three ways changing what you say can bring about the transformation you desire.
* BECOME AN ENCOURAGER. The first place to practice being an encourager is with yourself. When faced with a challenging task, pay attention to what you say about yourself to yourself. Instead of saying, “this is too hard for me” or “I can’t do this,” say “this may be hard but I can do it.” Often times we defeat ourselves with words before we have even begun the work at hand. Encouraging is simply a pep talk to inspire courage. It doesn’t require a lot but it could mean the world to you or to someone who is doubting themselves or their abilities. Another way to practice being an encourager is to give compliments. Complimenting someone on their hair or verbally admiring their shoes can go a long way to make them feel good and you may find it gives you a mood boost as well.
* EMPATHIZE. To be an effective encourager, you must develop empathy for the other person. Seeing a situation from another’s perspective will help you learn what is important to them; what they value. Once you learn this, you can offer verbal encouragement to communicate that you care and understand how they feel. This is not the time to be critical, condescending and condemning. Your positive and inspiring words may be just the catalyst someone needs to change direction in life and reach their full potential.
* PUT SOME SUGAR ON IT. Have you heard that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar? Absolutely true. It is not what you say, it is how you say it. A scowl on your face and a grunt in your voice can turn even the sweetest phrase sour. You may have the other person’s best interest at heart but the message gets lost in the nasty translation. Most often, people hear and interpret the message based on the tone in which it was delivered. The way you express your feelings and desires is very important. No one responds well to harsh language and demands. The goal is to draw people to you and create healthy, meaningful and positive relationships.
Don’t get discouraged if none of the above comes naturally to you. It’s okay. We are all shaped by our experiences and unfortunately, everyone has not had the experience of being encouraged, receiving empathy or being spoken to sweetly. These concepts may appear foreign and seem impossible to some. The good news is you can learn! All that is required is a willing spirit and practice.Meet the Author
Author Hazel Mills, has written several short stories, novels and articles for publication. Hazel has been recognized as a part of Who’s Who in Black Birmingham (2009) and Who’s Who in Black Alabama (2014). She was the recipient of an AAMBC Literary Award in 2009 and was a contributor to the African American Literary Award winning anthology, Mocha Chocolate: Taste a Piece of Ecstasy, as well as a nominee for her own book(2008). Hazel’s latest novel series, Mr. Wrong After All and Mr. Wrong After All: Second Chances, was released in 2015 by Mahogany Red Books. She enjoys writing and being a wife and mother of three sons.