Are You Killing People With Your Words?

Today’s post is written by guest blogger Janis Pullen, an Executive Mastery Coach. Janis gives us insight into how the words we speak are received by others. Enjoy!

I attended a talk recently given by D. F. “Duffy” Swan, Chairman of French Funerals in Albuquerque, NM.  He began his talk with this remark:  “Every time you open your mouth, your mind comes out and parades around.”  His talk drove home that in any our conversations we are speaking spirits; we will speak either words of life or words of death, and we may not even know it.

Being an ontological coach, this message sparked my interest and delight!  Distinguishing the impact of our words on others is a superior, insightful, responsible behavior.  So I asked and received permission to share his message with my world.  I trust that you will enjoy and practice giving life and not death with your words.

Words of Death:
  1. Criticism & Ridicule:  These words wound deeply, hurt, and crush the spirit.  Criticism and ridicule cause the recipient to withdraw, to pull back, even if said in jest or jokingly.  In the movie, “Rudy” his parents laughed at Rudy’s dream of becoming a Notre Dame football player.  It took a strong character, internal fortitude, and intense commitment to overcome the family’s derision.
  2. Lying, Spinning, Flattery, Gossip, Shading:  These words kill relationships because of the deceit, making things appear as they are not.  
  3. Anger:  These words can tear down and destroy if they are inappropriately used, abusive, or beyond the realm of reason.
Words of Life:
  1. Encouragement:  We need encouragement more than anything.  Encouragement invites teamwork, inspires courage, builds confidence, and assures belonging.  Note:  Encouragement must be genuine in order to be words of life.
  2. Appreciation:  Practice appreciation daily.  Say it out loud, or write a hand-written note that you mail to someone.  Note:  As a coach, I stress the importance of appreciating others AND appreciating yourself.
  3. Rebuke and Correction:  These words as essential for growth.  We don’t grow and improve without course correction.  They may be delivered either strongly and firmly or gently, but Rebuke and Correction must reflect the intent to uplift and support in order to be words of life.
Our words tear down (kill the spirit) of others or they build (bring life) to others.  We use words as stepping stones toward either end.  Will you be a builder? Mr. Swan ended his talk with this poem:

Isn't it strange how princes and kings, and clowns that caper in sawdust rings, and common people, like you and me, are builders for eternity?
Each is given a list of rules; a shapeless mass; a bag of tools. And each must fashion, ere life is flown, A stumbling block, or a Stepping-Stone.
-- R. L. Sharpe (1870 – 1950)

Janis Pullen is an Executive Mastery Success Coach for Ontological Wealth, Weight, and Leadership (O.W.W.L.).  To subscribe to her O.W.W.L. Success Tips or her blog, please visit .