We have within us the power to elevate, or destroy, simply through the choice of our words.

I recently received a completely unexpected email from a client I’d worked with years ago. She sent this email to me and four other women who had either coached or mentored her in some way. She addressed each of us individually, reflecting on what she had learned during our work together and how that had supported her growth and success. She thanked each of us for being part of her journey.

Wow. I had not seen this woman since our coaching relationship had concluded. I didn’t know how she was doing, or whether or not what she’d learned and experienced in our coaching sessions had had any lasting impact. By sharing her thoughtful words about realizing she didn’t have to go it alone, she put that uncertainty to rest. Her words touched me deeply. Not only did I get validation for our work, her kind gesture gave me a refreshing and fulfilling view of my work. I wrote her back, thanking her so she would know how valuable this gift had been to me, and would now be to those I work with.

We have within us the power to elevate, or destroy, simply through the choice of our words.

While we cannot control anyone’s actions, when we use our words with the intention of elevating each other and creating greater understanding, we have the potential to change hearts and minds. I’ve been studying and practicing this daily for many, many years, and I’m sharing some of my understandings next. Here’s my disclaimer: I’m learning every day. I continue to make mistakes! Take what works for you, and leave the rest.

1. Own the fact that you matter. Your words matter. It’s so easy to forget how consequential our words and actions are, especially when we get caught up in our own inner dramas, and in the speed and complexities of life. You have the ability to use your words to make or break every moment. That’s how powerful you are.

2. Pause and breathe before responding to anything that makes you uncomfortable, angry or afraid. This takes a lot of practice because neurologically we either want to fight or flee, and we can say the first thing that comes to mind. Gaining choice during these moments can make all the difference in whether or not we answer a question from an audience member with confusion or grace, or weaken or enhance a work relationship. I’ve found it helps to get into the habit of taking a breath before I respond to anything. That way, if it’s challenging, I’m already pausing and not responding from fight or flight.

3. Speak from the deepest truth you know. By doing so, we communicate our trustworthiness. Often, this means being willing to be vulnerable and tell someone how we feel. It means being visible. It means being honest. Maybe that entails letting them know how much we care about them. Maybe it takes coming clean with some tougher truths. It doesn’t require we say everything we think or feel! That can be “too much information.” We all have to make our best judgment call. It does involve sharing our truth in a way that can hopefully create an opening for greater understanding. When we’re speaking before an audience, it asks that we be willing to “go there” — to let our audience in.

4. Be willing to clean up your mistakes. We’re going to mess up. It’s inevitable. We’re going to give presentations that don’t land. We’re going to say things we wish we hadn’t. And, we’re going to experience the consequences. The important thing is to humbly ask to make things right. Be the one to take the lead. Apologize. Make good on your commitment. Do what you can to make things whole.

5. See each person as deserving of respect and regard. By bringing that intention to our presentations and conversations, we can make a huge difference in the outcome. Even if we don’t like someone or something, or don’t agree with what they’ve said or done, we can keep that intention ever present in our hearts and minds. Because, the truth is, we are all deserving of respect and regard, not because we are always on our best behavior or “right,” but because we’re members of the human family. At least that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

You have within you the power to elevate, or destroy, simply through the choice of your words.

Make your words count! You can change your world for the better and ignite your audiences and coworkers to do the same. Deciding this is important to you is the first step. I would love to support you. I can be reached at Andrea@AndreaBeaulieu.com.

Image courtesy of Flick user Biblioteca Centrala a BM B.P. Hasdeu