BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE

Your mouth is poison; your mouth is wine.

–The Civil Wars

WHAT WE SAY MATTERS

The words we use can create sparks that can burn down the house. The lyrics from the musical group, “Talking Heads, in their song, “Burning Down the House”, sets the stage for this blog.

My house! Is out of the ordinary

 That’s right! Don’t wanna hurt nobody

 Some things sure can sweep me off my feet

 Burning down the house

Let me break down these lyrics based on our words; 

“My house! Is out of the ordinary.” The atmosphere we create is based on the words we choose.

“We don’t want to hurt anybody.”, Our words can encourage, persuade, defend, or manipulate. They can offend, ruin our relationships, position, or the respect we have with those we lead or influence.

“Some things sure can sweep me off my feet.” Choosing the rights words will determine your effectiveness in influencing  

“Burning down the house.” Chose the wrong words, and watch everything you created, the culture, the relationship, and the influence you had, burn!

OUR WORDS ARE POWERFUL

In the third chapter of the book of James, he says this:

“Consider when a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire.” Verse 7: “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison.” (NIV)

James wasn’t saying that speaking or words are evil. The fact is, our words are incredibly crucial for influencing others. Our words are essential for building and strengthening those we interact with, so words are important. But he does give us the warning that words can do a lot of damage.

Sometimes one inappropriate word can wreck a career. It can destroy a reputation. When it’s in bad taste, when it’s unfair or unjust, it can burn down a life. It can burn down a whole culture!

It doesn’t matter that you “didn’t mean it” or that you were “just joking.” Sometimes, words just hurt. And we who use them have a responsibility to do so with an awareness of the impact they may have.

In light of the COVID crisis and the racist issues, I spent time re-evaluating the way I think and the approach I take with others. I realize our words determine our beliefs, and that results in the atmosphere we create.

Here are some things to consider about our words:

  1. THINK. Think about what you want to say before you say it. Ask the question, “What if.”. Careless words create frustration.
  2. NOT POLITICAL. Words are not political. They are about respect
  3. CONTEXT. There are occasions in which certain words are not offensive. However, you must ensure you are clear in your position and communicate the FULL meaning of your thoughts.
  4. CORRECT or INCORRECT. You should know what words you are speaking; choose wisely before opening your mouth or writing that angry email or text.
  5. HABITS MATTER. If I speak differently at home than at work, my words will come out, regardless of where I am and who is accompanying me. They will come out unintentionally.
  6. LAZY WORDS. We will all offend someone at some time. Some more than others. Why? Because we are lazy to think before we speak and we are lazy to change the way we think.

So What Now What

Words are invisible sparks. They build up in our brains, and every time we speak a wrong word, they shoot from our tongue. If we continue to speak the wrong things, we will fuel the fire and “BURN DOWN THE HOUSE!”

Just do this…………………THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK.

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainr, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.