How Our Words Impact Others

Our words carry enormous weight. More than we sometimes think. They often impact people for decades, providing the courage to press on or one more reason to give up.

Two Business People Meeting One Another - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs, Image #12681402

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs

When I was fourteen, my family moved from Nebraska to Texas. It was the middle of my ninth-grade year. Junior high is always an awkward time, but the move during this critical year made it even more difficult.

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I remember walking into the school cafeteria for the first time. I was all by myself. The other kids had the luxury of established friendships. I didn’t know a soul. The cliques were already defined.

After making my way through the serving line, I slid into the nearest open seat. The kids at the table gave me the once-over, wrinkled their noses, and then snickered. I could feel my face getting red with embarrassment. I looked down at my food.

Finally, one of the kids broke the ice. “Man! You have one BIG nose!”

I was mortified. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to cry, but I managed a little laugh—like it didn’t really bother me. But it did.

Every day from that point forward, I would look at myself in the mirror. All I could see was that big fat nose. It dwarfed every other feature. I studied it from every angle, but kept coming back to the same conclusion: I was merely a life support system for a nose. It was my defining feature.

Thankfully, I eventually grew out of this perception. But it literally took me twenty years. Even now, I’m a little self-conscious about it.

It just goes to show you how powerful words can be. A careless word can shape—or misshape—someone’s reality for years to come.

I think that is why Ephesians 4:29 is one of my favorite Bible verses:

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (NASB).

This verse provides three characteristics of wholesome speech:

  1. Wholesome words build people up. This is the meaning of the word “edification.” It’s the same word from which we get “edifice” or building. Other people, the Bible tells us, are temples (see 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19). As leaders, we have the privilege of co-laboring with God to build these living cathedrals.
  2. Wholesome words are timely. The right words at the wrong time can be just as damaging as the wrong words. Words left unsaid can also be hurtful. As leaders, it takes discernment to know when and if to speak. The right word spoken at the right time can make all the difference for someone.
  3. Wholesome words provide grace. I take this as more than merely being generous or accommodating—though those are both important. I see grace as also the power of God to do His will (see Philippians 2:13). As leaders, our words can either empower people and make them want to press on or diminish them and make them want to quit.

King Solomon said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). Every day, we are shaping reality for someone by the words that we use with them. The choice is ours. How will our words impact others?

Question: How have the words of another—positive or negative—impacted your life? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • SueB

    I thoroughly agree with you. Words said or left unsaid can impact one’s entire life. When I was in elementary school, one of my “friends” told me, one day, that her Dad thought I was funny looking. Still, to this day, if I catch someone staring at me my first thought is they must think I’m funny looking. And one other thing. When I was quite young, my Grandmother told me that everyone in the family liked my older sister better than me. Yep. I still believe that today. (My older sister is pretty lovable, I must admit, though.)

  • Anonymous

    I remember in 10th grade, one of the lowest times in my life. My science teacher ate lunch with me and said, “Artie you have something special, there’s nothing that will be too big for you.”

    Changed my life!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Wow. That’s a great story. If only we would see the power of edifying and encouraging others.

    • http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/ Geoff Webb

      Amazing that something so simple can be so profound. Makes me think how many opportunities I pass up—with my wife, kids, or coworkers. Thanks, Artie!

    • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

      Wow, yes, those are powerful words! Thank you for that perspective. I have five children who need to hear things like that–and I need to remember to say them.

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    I grew up moving around from time to time with Dad being military. Usually that meant places used to people moving, but one place wasn’t. For the first year, the kid down the street was a great friend. Then he asked about why we lived there, I told why we came and that we’d eventually move.

    He never spoke to me again, for the next 2 years that we lived there. Next move it took me 3 years to make real friendships.

    Positive side would be the words written by a junior high teacher in my yearbook. His encouragement helps pull me back on path when I need it most.

  • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

    Praise in Public, Critique in Private: I’m never one who’s minded constructive criticism, except when it’s in front of an audience. Therefore, Out of respect to the team, I reserve critiques for our private, one-on-one meetings while making certain to take many opportunities to praise them among others.

    I once had a boss who seemed to do the reverse. Although it did not seem intended to harm, he regularly critiqued his team in group settings. He rarely praised them publicly. As a result, regardless of how minor the criticism was, it constantly occurred among others, leaving an impression that his team was often wrong. Watch out for that trap.

    Great post Michael – thank you for sharing.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s great advice, Ben. I think it also holds true for email. Never criticize via email; do it in person. However, use email for public praising.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I’ve heard that several times before. Good idea to keep in mind.

      • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

        Yes, I am certainly not the first person to suggest that.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          But it’s definitely worth repeating. Thanks!

    • Scott Bain

      Your post reminds me of the book Good to Great: a little nugget I use often as a leader is never confusing the window and the mirror. When giving praise, do it out the window to your team and when there is fault or questioning, look in the mirror at yourself first. Not the opposite

  • http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/ Geoff Webb

    When I was a young platoon leader in the Army and felt like I wasn’t contributing much, my first company commander told me to relax, that I was an “investment.” The idea that he saw my worth—even my future worth—was so freeing. I wrote about the whole experience and how it affects my leadership here: http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/the-leadership-investment/

    I struggle most with finding the words that will truly edify. I’ve got to rely on God to speak through me. I find myself praying a version of Isaiah 50:4 a lot:

    “The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.”

    Again, it comes back to listening, I guess.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great verse, Geoff.

  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    The power of the words, it is certainly a big deal for everybody, specially when it is about us. In our mind we are always trying to “fit in”, until we realize we are who we are and cannot change it. It took me years to understand me more, I think reading the Bible and overall books about self development helped me greatly. The point also is – I will never say “I arrived and I am done”, because there is always something new to do, new challenge, new way of doing things, new way of living and we have to adapt.

  • http://twitter.com/LLadylaw Fegins (Faygo)

    Great useful article. It brought memories of a ugly remark that was said to me at the age of ten and how it impacted me. It took many years to reject that voice . Thanks for sharing.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I was amazed at how fast those old feelings came back when I started to write this post.

      • Karl Mealor

        I can’t believe how much this article has stirred me today. And, based on other comments, it’s made several of us aware of some things we thought were long forgotten…

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Just writing it stirred up many memories in me. I thought I had forgotten this story, until I was talking with my friend Ken Davis.

      • Ben

        Reading your post brought me right back to that moment. You didn’t just stir your old feelings up. I think you stirred up a lot of people.

  • Tod Shuttleworth

    Great timing. I needed that post. :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love your teachability.

  • Colleen LaQuay Urbaniuk

    same story for me…someone said i had a big nose when i was a teen and that’s all i “heard” in my head for years…i never felt pretty or accepted because of it-as if a nose really makes that big of a difference-but it wasn’t the nose really, it was the words…it wasn’t until years later when i made a casual comment on a family vacation that i wanted a nose job that i ever really got over my “big” nose. my brother in law who was about 16 at the time looked at me like i was crazy and said, “you don’t need a nose job, you’re fine just like you are!”. and that’s all it took for me…a few nice words to wipe out those critical words from so long ago. i’m glad though, for the lesson my nose taught me, because i realized at a young age how important our words can be to someone and how the right word at the right time has the ability to bring healing back into someone’s soul.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I had a similar experience. I have a prominent nose but not a big nose. It just goes to show you how others can shape our perception.

  • http://twitter.com/lolajl Lola Lee Beno

    Oh, yeah, words can be powerful. I remember asking my teacher (I was in the oral part of the elementary school program for deaf kids; this program used oral and sign language methods) why she didn’t learn sign language. She said because it was too hard for her to learn. Wow. That really made an impression on me, like we deaf kids weren’t worthwhile. I still feel a bit of an inferiority complex as I struggle to persuade people to caption videos on technology topics and to convince people to take a chance on bringing someone with a hearing loss onto their team.

  • Just a guest…

    I was given many postive words of affirmation when growing up which I believe kept me on track when during my first marriage during I was subjected many times to negative words meant to tear me down. I firmly believe that those words of affirmation while growing up built a solid foundation for me to stand on when the negative words from a few years later in my life attacked me. The early words of affirmation helped me to not believe or take to heart the hurtful words. The negative words still hurt me but they didn’t destroy me.

  • http://fireandhammer.blogspot.com Dennis

    I was a co-dependent as a teen (my mom suffered from alcoholism). When sober she said positive things but when under the influence she said a lot of negatives. Those negatives always outweighed the positives. As a result I eventually reached a point where I stopped trying and became a very negative angry person. I was walking around but I was not living. I am in my forties now and it has taken this long for me to get over the words that were said in my teens.

    It took the healing hand of Christ to restore life for me. Now I am very aware of how what I say has the potential to build up or to derail.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I heard somewhere that it takes ten positives to overcome one negative. I don’t know if that’s true, but it certainly takes a lot more!

      • Paul Darilek

        For his work on corporate transformation through Appreciative Inquiry, my friend Jim Ludema has looked at studies relating to”inner dialogs”–from corporate ones at the water cooler, to marital or personal inner dialogs–and the findings vary; some indicate that to remain a healthy and positive outlook a corporate, marital or personal psychology needs 6 positive comments to one negative, others say 11 to 1, others say 4 to 1, but they ALL say to remain healthy and positive, we need an imbalanced, positive inner dialog.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          That’s good information. Thanks.

  • Teresa Bakker

    When I read the comments posted I wasn’t surprized to see how many people commented on a hurt inflicted long ago by careless words. Can we learn from that and as leaders choose words that coach and encourage? That is one of my takeaways from this article.

    I too need to reminded of this. I think this is one I need to file away.

  • http://www.roccocapra.com/ Rocco

    You are so right. The words that we hear about us are so important to what we believe about ourselves. Still, there is another important message in your post, that being, to find our identity in God and not what the world says of us; To know that we are highly valued by the God of the universe. When I found that, it has been much easier to break the agreements to the lies the world has told me about myself – “I’m funny looking.” “I’m ugly/fat/stupid/etc..” “I have nothing to offer.” “No one wants to hear what I have to say.”(John Eldridge addresses this in his books.)
    Coming from a home ravaged by alcoholism I know all too well the damage those lies can do, I saw it in my dad and how it destroyed his life, I saw it in myself. Thank God I have come to understand my value in God’s eyes, that, “I do have something to offer.” “I am good.” “I do have something to say, and others do want, or need to hear it.” Knowing that has made a world of difference in identifying and denying those lies before I agree to them and they become what I believe about myself. All the time knowing who the “chief of lies” is, and knowing that he is the the true enemy in all this, helps keep me from believing lies about those who do say negative things to me, or others.

    Btw, You are one good looking man Michael. Honestly, before this post, I never noticed your nose, even now, it just doesn’t look big to me.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words. Over time, our perceptions adjust. And you are certainly right: the best foundation for our identity or perception is God’s view of us. This hugely helped me—and continues to help me deal with negative feedback.

  • http://www.thepoint-leah.blogspot.com Leah Adams

    What a hugely important subject!! I am a recovering anorexic because of words from a loved one as a child.

    “That will make you fat!”
    ” You can’t have that..it is fattening.”
    “You need to lose weight.”

    My heart and mind assimilated those words and allowed them to impact me negatively, taking me to the place of anorexia, so it is not entirely the fault of another. Nonetheless, our words are so powerful.

    I think we should pray Psalm 19:14 every day…Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your eyes.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Powerful story. It makes me wonder how many careless words I have uttered that negatively affected others.

    • http://www.roccocapra.com/ Rocco

      Our society seems to be infected with those kinds of words. As a dad to little girls, I try so hard to make sure I encourage them to eat healthy and avoid the words you pointed out. That is so important! Also, to protect them from ‘the world’ that so easily uses those words.

      Ps. You’re beautiful Leah.

      • http://www.thepoint-leah.blogspot.com Leah Adams

        Rocco, I’m sure you are doing a wonderful job with your girls. A daddy’s words are so important to girls…so important.

        Check out the Bible study that I wrote recently…it is all about the legacy we are leaving for the generations that come behind us. You are already tuned into the legacy you are leaving and that is great. Thanks for the kind words.

        • http://www.roccocapra.com/ Rocco

          Thanks Leah!

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I agree, Rocco. I have three daughters and two sons. I really heve to watch what I say. The surprising thing (or maybe not so much) is that my son, who is 6, is the most sensitive of the five. He can take something I meant very innocently and hear it in a way I never even imagined. And not just in areas of appearance, but self-esteem, with strangers or not-so-well-known people, in his creativity, and many other areas.

        My prayer is that I can be successful most of the time at thinking before I speak, so I can avoid causing him pain.

        • http://www.roccocapra.com/ Rocco

          Right on, Jeff

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            :)

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    My second grade teacher told me that I would be a politician or public speaker when I grew up. As a very shy kid giving a book report in front of the class, those words changed my life. It took years, but those words came true.
    Names are the area that many kids suffer through. I quickly realized that I was named after a president (John Adams), a baptist (John the Baptist), and a bathroom. While my name caused me a little consternation over the years, I actually use it as a memory jogger now. When I meet someone new, I shake hands and say my name is John, my name is easy to remember, as my parents named me after either a Baptist or a bathroom. People usually laugh… but they don’t forget my name.
    I am definitely motivated by Seth Godin, who shaved his hair off, got some very striking glasses and has become a speaking icon. He took a weakness and made it into a strength.

  • Linda

    So very true. Had a pastor tell me when I was 27 that I didn’t belong in the church, in fact I just didn’t belong. Still haunts me. Haven’t been back to the ‘church’ in any consistent manner since.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is really sad. I am so sorry. You DO belong!

    • http://www.thepoint-leah.blogspot.com Leah Adams

      Oh Linda, please don’t let those words keep you from the sweet fellowship of the body of Jesus Christ. I cannot imagine how hurtful that was but I pray that the Lord will draw you back in spite of those words. I pray that you will find a fellowship that loves and cares for you so much that you cannot help but be drawn in.

    • Ben

      I agree with what Michael and Leah said before me. You do belong. We need you.

    • http://www.ginaparris.com GinaParris

      You sure DO belong Linda! That poor pastor was probably speaking out of his own sense of never belonging and he projected it on to you.

    • http://twitter.com/DanielBecerra Daniel Becerra

      Linda, I hope you really do read these. You DO belong. Please don’t mix up God’s character with this pastor’s character. It’s okay to get mad at people, but people are not God. God wants you back.. give it a try :)

  • www.therextras.com

    Looks like God led you to the right business!
    Barbara

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Mike! Words have a profound impact on our life. Words make or break relationships. In fact, many broken relations between husband and wife, parents and children, siblings are result of some inappropriate and trivial war of words between them. Words are like mirrors. Once spelt out, it is similar to mirror getting broken. We can never repair the damage caused by them. No one can better explain the impact of words in our life than King Solomon in the Bible. Here are some of the examples:

    “… A kind word cheers him up.” – Proverbs 12:25b

    “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” -Proverbs 15:1

    “… Pleasant words promote instruction.” – Proverbs 16:21b

    “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” – Proverbs 16:24

    “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint…” – Proverbs 17:27a

    “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters….” ¬- Proverbs 18:4a

    “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” – Proverbs 18:8

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for all these verses. As you have demonstrated, our words are of utmost importance.

  • Thoexter

    This is a key component to the huge bullying issue that is so prevalent today. The key is to teach empathy and compassion to our children at a young age. I’m working on a children’s book, A Wrinkled Heart, about how you can “wrinkle” someone’s heart with your words. You can apologize later and try to remove the wrinkles, but they don’t come all the way out. It is a very visual concept to hopefully help children have a better understanding of the impact of their words. It’s based on a folktale that many teachers use in their classrooms. Would love to show it to you, if interested, Michael.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I remember Gary Smalley once taught me that a wound is like driving a nail in a piece of wood. You can pull the nail out (remove the offense), but it still leaves a hole.

  • Karla

    “Words left unsaid can also be hurtful.”

    I think of the words that I have longed to hear from my father my entire life. I spent a lifetime trying to fill that void left by words unsaid, until I realized that my Heavenly Father has always said them.

    I love Proverbs 16:24 “Gracious words are a honeycomb, soothing to the soul and healing to the bones.”

    • Thoexter

      And I love to look for opportunities to build someone up, especially children. Maybe they will be the words that their Dad/Mom/Teacher hasn’t said to them. As others have stated here, it can make a lifelong impact.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I hear this a lot. I think this is why I have tried to be so intentional to tell my own daughters how much I love them.

  • Cassandra Frear

    “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Proverbs 25:11

    And it is a thing of beauty, inspiring those who see it. I want my life to be defined that way.

    But sadly, when I’m tired or stressed, I can utter words that do not build up. I can use words that tear down. It’s so easy to slip up in this area. And very hard to undo the damage after the words have been spoken.

    One thing helps — if I’ve built relationships on grace, then hearers of my words have some idea of my heart’s intent. They can recover from my carelessness more readily.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love that verse. I can also see the wisdom in monastics taking a vow of silence.

  • Karl Mealor

    One of the reasons I became a teacher is because of the power of words. One of my high school math teachers was (and is) a great influence on my life. I literally can remember, verbatim, every positive and negative thing he ever said about me. If I stop and think about them, some of the same emotions that I felt at the time still surface. (Probably need therapy :-)

    As a teacher, I’ve often been surprised at the UNINTENTIONAL impact of words. Sometimes, students come to me and say something along the lines of “when you said ________________, it really meant a lot to me.” Too often, I can’t even recall saying the words that apparently were life-altering. It makes me wonder how many people I’ve built up, and torn down, over the years without even realizing it.

    “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The bible verse you use in your last like is my constant prayer. In fact, in the Orthodox worship tradition (of which I am a part), it is sung every single night at Vespers.

  • http://twitter.com/SandraHeskaKing SandraHeskaKing

    Our first piece of “we” furniture after marriage was a piano. I’d always wanted to play. So I took some lessons and “performed” for my parents when they came to visit. I was so proud of myself.

    “Oops, you made a mistake.”

    That one statement has stuck with me for over 30 years.

    We never know how our words might affect another. That’s why we need to stay steeped in Him.

  • http://bonniesrandomthoughtsaboutlife.blogspot.com/ Scrubbybubbles

    OH YEAH! a big Amen for this! ALOT of my life I let careless words Define & tear me down, until i had a very poor Image of Myself. Then, I rededicated my Life to Christ, found a Incredible, Loving, edifying, Church family. Started to realize who I am In Christ! There IS Life & Death in the Words you Speak!! :)

  • Ben

    I was in junior high. The girl said, “You are so fat and ugly no one will ever love you.” I’m married and have kids now, but I can still hear her voice sometimes.

    By the way, I have never thought your nose looked big.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Kids say the cruelest things at that age. Unfortunately, they are said when we are the most vulnerable!

    • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

      I heard that from girls too.

      I’m married with kids but I still believe those teenage girls in my memory over my wife sometimes!

  • http://www.confessionsofalegalist.com Jeremy Statton

    I have noticed this with my kids as well. There are things that I say that I do not even realize that it bothers them until it comes up again later. I am also trying to be deliberate about complimenting them and even more importantly telling them how much I love them and that there is nothing that will ever change that.

  • Jamoore06

    Your nose story, was my teeth (aka. “Bugs Bunny”) story. I didn’t realize until now how much power I had given to those words from my high school days. The offender has long forgotten the words, but I can close my eyes and remember like it was yesterday. Thank you for these words of encouragement to help me release the power of those words and to remind me that my words are just as powerful and lasting. I pray that God guides your words and mine.

  • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

    I’m sure many of you have heard of Ann Voskamp (www.aholyexperience.com). She just released a book in January (One Thousand Gifts). I’d been following her blog for a couple of years and her words have changed my life–her words have brought me closer to Jesus. God is using her in a might way.
    She even wrote an entire series (with Holley Gerth) on the importance and impact of words.

  • Chris Shaughness

    I had an agent tell me that my book about puppy mill surviviors would never sell. From that moment on, I was super-determined to prove her wrong. Talk about negative motivation! And I too, had a guy tell me that my nose was too big when I was in my late teens. Glad to hear that you got over it; I’m still working on it. The saving grace was that someone else told me I have pretty eyes. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

  • http://www.kevinteast.com Kevin East

    You know, Michael, another post could come alongside this one well. It could be on the POWER of a father’s word.

    Words have impact, yes. But a father’s words carry such weight. We as men don’t fully realize this, so often we destroy our spouse or our kids with our words.

    I remember some hurtful things my dad said to me, not because he was a bad dad, but because his words stuck to me.

    If we things words have impact, let’s also remember the power our words carry.

    If you want to tear up, or see your kids tear up, just tell them you are proud of them – not for something they did – but for who they are.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree. Thankfully, I had a dad who frequently told me he was proud of me.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I make it a point to tell my kids I love them and am proud of them frequently. My dad never said that very much to me. That’s something I’m changing.

  • Luci Swindoll

    Mike: wonderful blog post! Your words of leadership and kindness have not only impacted me…but the entire organization of Women of Faith. From you, we constantly receive encouragement, direction, empowerment and guidance. And the points you make about having “wholesome speech” are how you deal with the WOF branch of Thomas Nelson. For all of us, I want to say THANK YOU.
    Luci Swindoll

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thank you, Luci. You all are a delight. I loved being on the stage last week with you and Mary!

  • Anonymous

    I have done so much damage to myself in the past by speaking negatively to myself. Then I had a friend who started speaking truth to me. It became a rule between us that I could not talk bad about myself. After a while I started lifting my head a little bit higher. Then becoming confident of Who I Am In Christ raised my head even higher. I have been able to pass that on to others. It’s a rule with all of my friends that we cannot say negative, damaging things to ourselves.

    • Ben

      This is really good insight. It’s crazy how we will repeat the lies someone else has spoken instead of the truth from God’s word. Thanks for the reminder that we can do as much – and possibly more – damage to ourself than others can.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Self-talk can be brutal. I think it is way more damaging than what others say to us. Good for you!

    • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

      I do the negative talk to myself thing all the time.

      I’ve tried the rule with friends like you say but it doesn’t help when you’re too obstinate or foolish to believe anything anyone else says (like me)

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I think this is where you have to trust in what God says about you. This is how Jesus neutralized Satan’s words.

        • Lori McLaughlin

          Hi Mike,
          I know I am way late in the game.  This blog is great!  I’ve really been blessed by reading your article and many of the wonderful comments.  I have a heart to encourage people, so I’m right with all of you.  I just want to say though on this comment, Jesus didn’t merely neutralize Satan’s words, He demolished them!  Halleluia and He gave us a wonderful example of how to silence the enemy when he is telling us lies.God bless you and continue this great work for the Lord!

      • Anonymous

        You certainly have to trust in God. But you have to make effort to. Satan is the father of lies and the battlefield is in the mind. Take those thoughts captive, tell yourself who you are in Christ. It’s hard work. It’s constant work.

        I had to repeat it over and over again in the bathroom mirror. It took a while to sink in, but it will. Just be persistent. God is.

  • http://twitter.com/MacKinnonChris Chris MacKinnon

    I’m pretty sure I hurt my younger brother when we were growing by what I said about him in school. It followed him for years and hurt our relationship for a long time.

    Now I try to remind people that they are depositors into the hearts and minds of everyone they come in contact with, and that those other people deposit into their heart and mind. We have to be mindful of what we are “throwing out there,” and what we are allowing to come into us.

    Great post. Thanks.

  • http://familysynergy.wordpress.com JD Eddins

    Two of the most meaningful conversations that I have had were with coaches that I viewed as father figures. My parents divorced when I was 12 and I switched schools at the beginning of 6th grade, the middle of seventh and then again in 9th, so I can relate to your story of being the new kid.
    The first coach was my soccer coach in high school. My sophomore year I failed Spanish and was not allowed to play on the soccer team until I passed the course. My coach allowed me to stay with the team, travel to all the games, and continue to practice with them. After one away that was still close to home he took me the Krystal’s near Hillsboro High School in Nashville. I don’t remember everything that was said but he basic affirmed my dedication to the team. So thanks Coach Lape!
    The second is my current boss, Adrian Hickmon, who was one of my teachers in my Masters program. Since is is a former football coach his approach to how is taught was very hands. I can remember countless times he has affirmed my and my manhood during my time in the MFT program and now as an employee at Capstone Treatment Center.
    I’d like to say thanks to both of these men for the impact they have had on me.

  • Anonymous

    My wife has done a wonderful job helping me to be better in this area. I tend to be the kind of person that picks out the flaws in an idea first. Long before I get to explaining how much I may like something, the damage is done and I’ve already missed the opportunity to be encouraging. Finally she told me what she needed… she needed to feel encouraged and empowered, even if the idea wasn’t great, she didn’t want to feel like a failure. My delivery was all wrong. Now I make it a goal to be encouraging to people, enthusiastic about them, and it has really changed the way I feel about people. I’m moving away from the tendency to only see the flaws to seeing the potential. Enthusiasm and encouragement are contagious, and they are essential to joy and quality in work and life.

  • http://2020visiononline.org Josh Hood

    This post reminded me a lot of your great post on “The Gift of Validation” http://michaelhyatt.com/the-gift-of-validation.html

    The Golden Rule has challenged me to affirm and build up others with my words. I love when people compliment, encourage, or thank me. So I try to ‘do unto others’. It is such a joy to bring value and affirmation to others. All through the power of words.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love the video in that post on validation. Powerful.

    • Meghan

      thanks for sharing this link to “The Gift of Validation”. 

  • Alisahopewagner

    Beautiful and honest :)

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you! The issues I work out in therapy are from the words spoken over me by my parents. Although I’m living proof of Isaiah 54:17 (No weapon formed against me shall prosper AND every tongue that rises against me in judgment I shall to be in the wrong); I catch myself bound by the words of my parents. Not nearly as much as when I initially left home over 20 years ago. But it is amazing the power of words. I’m very cautious in what I say to people.

  • Anne

    Thanks for this post, Mike. So often we forget the impact our words have on others. I remember an elementary school teacher calling me up in front of the class, showing me a math test with a big F marked on it, and saying, “You are lazy.” I was humiliated, and for a long time I had negative feelings about math. I told my mother about this incident (she was a teacher at the same school), and she took this teacher to task for her comment. On the positive side, my mother always told me I could do anything I wanted to do, if I set my mind to it and worked hard. She was my biggest cheerleader. I also remember a fellow employee at Thomas Nelson encouraging me one day when I was in tears about some work I had done. He said, “You are a good editor, and you can do this.” That got me through the rough time.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It is amazing to see how much power our words can have. I think most of us—me included—underestimate this. Thanks for your story.

  • teresa

    I was in 5th grade. A boy came up to me and said “why don’t you speak english?” I said, what? I do. He said, “You always say big words that no one can understand?” from that point on I made an effort to use smaller words. Only when I turned 30 did I realize I can speak big words now I’m an adult. I feel like my vocabulary was greatly diminished because of my decision to listen to the boy. My spelling certainly suffered :-D

  • http://twitter.com/obihaive Joseph Sanchez

    I also think this verse is very relevant for marriages. How many married people out there could improve their relationship with their spouse if they would be more encouraging/edifying toward them?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a very good point. Gail and I determined early in our marriage only to speak positively about one another in public. We have had issues to work through, but we also work hard at being the primary encourager in one another’s life. It has made all the difference for me!

  • Jon Owen

    Your heart is way bigger than your nose. Grateful that you share your insights that makes us all better people.

  • Woman @ the well

    I grew up in a home of alcoholics, an abusive dad and eventually a single parent home. I moved around a lot and found it very hard to make friends and “fit” in. Always being the new kid I was always picked on and left out. Through comments by others I have always felt I wasn’t pretty enough, rich enough, tall enough, smart enough, talented enough…I just wasn’t enough. I’ve avoided a lot of things in life because I don’t like my picture taken or my voice recorded because it just wasn’t _____ enough (fill in the blank). It has paralyzed me my whole life.

    There is a scene in the movie Pretty Woman where the characters Vivian & Edward are lying in bed facing each other and talking about how she had gotten to the place she was. She said her mom called her a bum magnet and that she had followed bum #3 to California. She said that when people said bad things about you long enough you began to believe them. Edward told her he thought she had a lot of good qualities and she replied “Ever notice how the bad stuff’s easier to believe?” That has stuck with me ever since I first saw that movie. No matter what I do the ugly words stick with me more than the nice comments do. The worst was at a nightclub some 13 or 14 years ago. I was walking from the bar back to my seat when two guys walked in my direction and where talking to each other. When they got to me one said to the other while looking me up & down, “Nice body but not much to look at in the face”. My heart shattered into a million pieces and I never ever forgot that night.

    I’ve had boyfriends and now my husband (for 11 years) tell me on countless occasions that I’m beautiful, sexy, amazing & gorgeous but each and ever time they do I hear those two jerks in the back of my mind. The aching pain those two inflicted on me that night was so uncalled for and people should never be that cruel but sadly they are.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is such a very sad story. I pray that one day the words of your husband—and your heavenly father—will truly drown out the words of those two thugs.

  • http://www.kathink.blogspot.com Kathleen T. Jaeger

    This is a convicting post. I have spoken a lot of unwholesome words lately — not horrible, not vulgar — but certainly NOT edifying. I need wisdom. I need to speak less. I need to speak apt words. Lord, help me.

  • http://www.idoinspire.com Jody Urquhart

    When i was a teenager kids on the bus used to poke fun at me and say I wore my pants too high up on my waste. they called me high pockets. I did everything from buying ill fitting pants that sagged down to my rear end ( this would be more in style now) to wearing huge sweatshirts to cover up my waste. Word make a huge impact.

  • Mary

    Words can build or tear others down and I think Jesus hits this head on in Ephesians 4:29.
    I am reminded of the scars of my past as I read these blogs. It took me many years to be able to come to a point in my life where I felt whole and worthy, and I thank my Lord and Savoir for that.
    My prayer is that i can now take these hurts and use them to help build others up. I see so much around me that makes me sad in how others are treated. It cuts to the inner core of my being. No one should walk inside of a church and feel like they don’t belong. Isn’t that where we go to see the face of our Lord?

  • http://evelynparham.com/ Evelyn

    I had a major professor say something to me that has always remained with me some 20 years later. At the time, it hurt my feelings, but I know it was for my good. I’m glad the professor said what he said to me, because today, I am an avid reader.

    Sometimes, I also get hurt when I need a word encouragement and the person doesn’t say anything. It makes me feel left out in the cold. I try not to ever do that to anyone. If I don’t have words to express to them at the time, I will let them know, but I always keep it positive.

    Great lesson!

  • Ev

    Thank you. I moved from a small town in South Texas to the big city of Houston in the middle of my 7th grade year. The move was due to economic necessity and my family of seven moved to a one bedroom apartment in a school zone that included the very wealthy of Houston. Yes, I had the big nose and the weight problem. The grace of God delivered me from negative feelings and negative tapes.

  • http://storiesfor.us Amelia

    My freshman year of college, I had a history professor who had a reputation for annihilating written reports. When he returned my first paper, I was surprised to not only see an “A” at the top, but also a personal note: “Have you ever considered pursuing writing? You have a strong writing voice.” My jaw hit the floor. Sixteen years later, I’m tip toeing into the world of writing and his words give me courage to move forward.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      What an awesome thing. You should listen to that voice!

  • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

    Great post.

    When I was younger, girls used to tell me I was ugly.

    I still carry that belief and the pain that goes with it today.

    I’ve been married for 13 years and yet I’m still worried my wife will open her eyes one day and realize the truth those girls knew!

    It’s ridiculous, but that’s the power of words. Sticks and stone may break my bones but words will haunt me forever.

  • Anonymous

    I just came across a statement that fits so well with this post: “When good becomes contagious it can impact wildly.” When thinking about our words, all of our words – both good and bad – have the potential to “go viral.” We must be especially careful online to produce only good!

  • http://twitter.com/Deemms Deanna Albrecht

    I’ve learned from a wise spiritual mentor, we even need to be careful of the words that we use when we think that we are “just kidding”.

    I was “just kidding” is often disguised as harmless fun, but often hurts just as often and just as much.

  • Lindsay

    This verse keeps coming up to me! It is so encouraging. I want to do God’s work, and that involves me softening up and saying good things that encourage and build. That is going to be my life’s work. The numerous counselors, support leaders, and adults in my life that encouraged me through the hard times in my life made all the difference. The presense of those words DO matter! Thank you God for all the people that spoke positivity into my life!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FJRLITL5IEFHDDFURAESLXOOZ4 Jim Whitaker

    Really good story. I remember in High School that I had a English teacher who told me that I could not pass the AP test if I continued to write the way I did and that she did not know why I was in her class. It hurt, but it drove me and I passed the test and got college credit for it. But it had its effects. I still think about it and I had a hard time writing and even reading books after the way I was treated in that class. Luckily I got past it and do some blogging every once and awhile and read like I have never read before. Thanks for the post Michael.

  • Kernzoie

    This should be the daily prayer of us all. As a child those words of confirmation never came and caused a life of insecurity and a constant need for affirmation. The Lord has set me free of this and the other side effects of rejection! So “watch your mouth” people.

  • http://www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com Rebecca Barlow Jordan

    A very helpful post, Michael. I so believe in powerful words of encouragement. When I was a senior in high school, a stranger clipped my senior picture/announcement out of the paper and sent it to me with a personal note: “You have a beautiful smile.” Those five words greatly impacted my life and helped to cushion all the times growing up when others called me “String Bean” repeatedly. (At 13 I weighed about 99 pounds and stood 5’9″). That person’s positive words influenced me to do the same thing, sending notes to others. I still believe that note was instrumental in my desire to encourage and inspire others positively for over 30 years now as a full-time writer and author. Positive words are extremely powerful!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      What a wonderful, positive example!

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Hard to say if we are shaping reality for others by the words that we use with them, or if we are shaping our own reality by the way we receive, interpret, and accord significance to the words that others use with us.

  • Clay Rohde

    Well said! James 3 of the bible talks about taming the tongue. I believe we speak our future into existence by what comes out of our mouths. Almost 15 years ago I had a pastor friend of mine say something to me that has never left me. He said to me that I would never make it or succeed in youth ministry. Those words still ring in my head & spirit. However, with 15 years of youth ministry experience I can say that he was wrong. We are still friends today and he is a great pastor.
    Please understand, I don’t have a large youth group, or even the crazy contagious personality that draws a crowd. But I do have a call from God to teens and share the trenches of life with some 50-60 students & 60-75 children. I can say that over the years of minstry with teens & children I have witnessed teens lives radically change, and children have a faith that is undaunting. All I know to do to be successful in any type of ministry be it youth, children, music, adults, homeless, etc is follow the voice of God in your life. What he calls you todo he will equip you to do it!

  • http://twitter.com/manyhatsmommyMI Jenny Herman

    I like the way you said another facet of grace is empowerment. What a fabulous perspective!

    When you told your nose story, I immediately thought of my freshman year in college. My first-time boyfriend’s dad told me, “Man! You have stinkin’ long fingers!” I told him they were for playing flute and piano, but it did not take away from the awkwardness I felt. Thankfully I did not let it bother me for too long, but it did discolor my opinion of him.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Timely words, Michael. My kids and I had a discussion about this exact topic just a couple of days ago. It’s very true. Words are powerful, and I want my kids to realize that and think about everything they say. (Me too!)

  • http://twitter.com/ThatGuyKC K.C. Pro

    I have gone through most of my life self conscious of my large head and small ears. I’ve been called a watermelon, bobble head, etc. Kids can be ruthless.

    Thank you for the reminder of how powerful our words are. Something I definitely need to keep in mind.

  • Anonymous

    When I was 9 we moved from North Carolina to California…needless to say they enjoyed hearing my ‘southern accent.’ Since then I have been careful to not speak ‘harsh’ words to people. Thanks for the post.

  • Paul Darilek

    Michael Hyatt, you have one great-looking nose! (Those running shoes you wear, however….)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Ha!

  • http://relevantbrokenness.com Marni Arnold

    Oh my goodness…yes, yes…and again, yes! The whole cliche statement of “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, is a big, fat lie!

    For one instance (out of many from my childhood) – back in 6th grade, a girl on the playground (my class had 6th grade in an elementary school) decided it was funny to “pick on Marni” one day and informed me to my face, in front of many of our classmates, that she would never hang out with me because [to her] I was so stupid that my brain belonged in a jar so scientists could study it to find out how someone could be so stupid.

    As you can tell, I clearly remember those words to this day twenty-two years later. It has taken me most of that time to come to a point where the words don’t sting and ring resonance in my life much anymore – but sometimes, they do crop up and play with my self-esteem.

  • http://twitter.com/joesheehan Joe Sheehan

    In middle school, I was a well-behaved student – but in metal shop, I was a terror, joining in with the other students who made fun of the old teacher over and over again… On the last day of school of 8th grade, as I was the last one to walk out of his class to goto the playground, he stopped me and said “You don’t belong with those guys.” He was right, and I never really interacted with those other students again. The way he phrased it was so powerful. I am forever thankful.

  • Katherine

    When I was a young teen, my stepmother passed on to me a comment my father had made about my school picture (which I’m sure he never intended me to hear): He said my hair looked like Tiny Tim’s. (If you’re as old as I am, you may remember this particularly egregious specimen of late-60s eccentric pop–he sang “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” in falsetto with ukulele accompaniment. Everything about him was hideous.)
    As a result of that comment, I went through my adolescence believing that my father thought me ugly and unfeminine. This led to all kinds of misguided attempts to prove that I was neither.
    Later, when I was in my mid-20s, my father said of another photo that I looked like Meryl Streep. At that point I forgave him for Tiny Tim, but the damage that had been done could not be undone.
    Parents especially need to be very, very careful what they say to their children.

  • http://levittmike.wordpress.com/ Michael Levitt

    You don’t have a big nose. Your leadership skills are HUGE though. #JustSayin’

    Blessings to you Michael, and thank you for this article.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Michael. You are kind.

    • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

      Yeah, I’ve been checking out pictures of Michael and I can’t see anything big about his nose.

      But your right, his leadership skills stick out like Steve Martin’s nose in ‘Roxanne’

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com Patricia Zell

    My mom spoke some of the most important words in my life when she continually repeated, “Pretty is is pretty does.” Those words became foundational in my life as I focused on who I am on the inside rather than how I look on the outside.

    I am so aware of the power of words when dealing with my students and I chose my words to be as positive as possible. I want them to succeed and my words can be the starting point for that success.

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  • Pattie L.

    Couldn’t agree with you more. James 1:19 says “Be quick to listen slow to speak and slow to get angry”. It seems people are quick to speak their mind, or lash out in anger in the emotion of the moment, and I am guilty of this as well at times. Once the words are out, there is no taking them back. The wound has been made. There is great power in our words, either to heal or to hurt. Each day is a new opportunity to watch what we said and use our words for the edification and uplifting of each other. Thanks for the post, Michael.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I often pray James 1:19 before important meetings.

  • Dnauman

    Very, very well said. So, true in my life and in the lives of people around me.

  • http://twitter.com/mdmaurer MaDonna Maurer

    Your story about noses brought back a memory. My nose was made fun of in K, and I’m still self conscience about it. But, edification of others have shaped me more than the comments about my nose. And for those I’m so thankful for.
    Great reminder that I need to edify my kids more and teach them how to do it for others.

  • http://twitter.com/criznale Crystal Renfrow

    Thank you for this post. I was thinking about a sermon my Pastor preached a few years ago called the “Power of Words” earlier today. It happened to be one of the last sermons he preached before passing away after a battle with cancer. I remember thinking how it odd it seemed to me at the time. But, soon after his passing, I faced the greatest battle of my life because of negative words/things people said about me. And through it all, I continued to remember his message that words have the power to heal or destruct. I chose not to retaliate when people said things. Instead, I took the high road. I’m grateful for that message he preached. This post is a great reminder to me to remember the power of our words towards others. Thanks again.

  • LK

    I agree completely. Middle school was a terrible time for me, teasing, etc. by those who’d deemed themselves the popular crowd. This only served to magnify the verbal abuse I received at home from my father. To this day, I over-analyze words, doubting intentions, wondering at hidden meaning. I’m a teacher now, and one thing that I am upfront about on the first day is a zero-tolerance on teasing. That little rhyme about “words can never hurt” is completely false. Words don’t just hurt, they haunt.

  • Carolyn Mejia

    in 8th grade i ate lunch with several groups of friends. one day one of the groups told me i had to choose once and for all. them or us. in chose ‘them’ and decided never to choose another group ever again. it was painful. but in the end it made me better. but i now resist popularity and the popular crowd with everything in me.

  • Marce

    When I was 18 my father told me he had never loved my mother a day in his life. (They had been divorced for 7 years at the time). Twelve years later those words still hurt. A parent should never say that to their child.

  • Ben L Wolf

    Michael,

    Your words and thoughts that you share have a much greater impact on others than you will ever know. Thanks for making a difference in the lives of others. Your thoughts become your words… your words become actions….and your actions shape your impact on others.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ben. You are kind to say so.

  • Joni

    Great blog. Every several years I read Joyce Landorf’s “Balcony People.” She talks about those voices in our heads that we play like tape recorders, and how some are healthy, some not. Reminding ourselves of our worth in Christ is so very, incredibly important. Renewing our minds in Christ makes a lot of sense given what some of us heard growing up–and what some of us still hear.

    I do find it imperative to approach each day with a focus that puts the occasional ugly words into context. Instead of indulging in the idea of how wrong someone else’s actions are, I now try move on, renew my mind, and think on other things! Some days it’s easier said than done :)

  • Jeff Jones

    I was talking with friends tonight at supper about the odd things people say. I went through a divorce recently and have had to learn to say nothing to some odd, hurtful things people say when they really don’t know what to say and shouldn’t say anything. My friends lost their 31 year old daughter last year and some of the things that have been said to them could bring tears to your eyes even though they were never meant to hurt. Odd that a gift God gave us so often backfires.

    On the other hand, while our silence can speak volumes, our words of compassion, concern, to share the Good News, these words can do good things that last a lifetime, if not through generations. I pray that the words I speak each day will be words from God and that I am only a conduit.

  • Shawnedamarks

    My biological mother’s husband called me into the house one day and said. You think you’re pretty but you’re not, you’ll just do. It took years to stop the destructive behavior pattern what he did and said to me over the years created. Now when I hear those words I smile, because i’ll just do anything out of my love for Jesus.

    All the evil the enemy planned by using him to hurt me repeatedly during the first 13 years of my life, God turned around for my good.

  • Tinyrajan

    Amazing blog. I can so relate to this. If we can think twice,thrice & many times before we blurt out something especially when we are ticked off will be a good thing to do too.
    Bless!

  • http://www.sweetenlife.com Gary

    I have written several books on training people to listen and speak with the fruit of the Spirit. Yes, “Death or life are in the tongue”. Get my book,”Listening for Heaven’s Sake”

  • Jilly Prather-Nehls

    Touching post, Michael. I am reminded of my alcoholic mother who also had many mental health issues. Growing up I didn’t realize that she needed help. One day we were shopping and a person looked at me. I asked Mom why he was looking at me. She said, “People always stare at ugly children.” Took me decades to stop believing I was ugly. A few years ago she passed away and I realized how ill she was raising me. Back then there was no mental health help like today. I forgave her. Her attitude struck me to the core and I’ve always been very careful not hurt others’ feelings with my words. I’m sure I have, however. People tell me I’m too careful to a fault. Is there such a thing?

    Jilly Prather-Nehls
    http://familybalancing.wordpress.com

  • Dwright

    Why is it that we can receive 100 positive comments about a project, speech,etc? However, we will spend hours ruminating over the 2 negative comments. I am so grateful for the individuals who have sown positive seeds in my life. I think that it is critical that we follow David’s example and “encourage ourselves in the Lord.” There is no doubt that negative comments hurt. We also need to do as the Bible says and think on things that are “lovely, good report, etc.”

  • Brenda

    Any time an authority figure speaks hurtful words without care or compassion, the receiver is diminished–sometimes to the point of being incapasitated. Just a few years ago, I interviewed with my supervisor for a position that would have resulted in a promotion. During a departmental meeting, when asked by a co-worker if the position had been filled, my supervisor responded, “I have only interviewed extremely weak candidates.” He later apologized, but in a private setting. Those words have haunted me since that day and have caused me to continually question my abilities and the value of my work. It is not only children and teenagers who are damaged by thoughtless, compassionless comments.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder how many people I have hurt with my careless words.

  • http://www.christopherscottblog.typepad.com/ Christopher Scott

    Good topic Michael.

    Reading your article brings to mind a mentor in my life who has brought tremendous value to me.

    For the past three years I have been mentored by a man who has poured his experience and knowledge into me. He has believed in me, told me I will do great things, and most importantly he has expressed that belief to others about me.

    He has believed in me much more than I have believed in myself at times, and that has had a positive impact on my life.

  • http://twitter.com/pggfpu Patrick Grady

    When I was a freshman in college, I was trying to decide what to declare as a major. My father was a civil engineer who had begun re-educating himself as a remedial college math teacher. His sister, my aunt, was (and still is) a PhD in Educational Administration.

    When I suggested that I thought I might like to be a teacher, and declare an Education major, they immediately ranked my reins hard.

    “There’s no money in it.”

    My mother recently told me that one of her greatest regrets was letting them walk over my decision at that time.

    I declared a Mathematics major, with a minor in Computer Science. I’ve been working in the soul crushing world of IT ever since. But the money is nothing to complain about.

    It’s those few opportunities I get to teach or coach a youngster at anything (sports, finance, math, dating) that give me more satisfaction in life than my best day ever at work.

    It’s that one moment at age nineteen that I would go back and change if I could. Such a big decision, hinged on the advice of so few of narrow mind. What a huge regret, that I have never been able to summon the bravery to reverse.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      What a powerful story. It’s incredible to see how our words can have such an enormous impact and affect the course of people’s lives.

  • Anonymous

    First, let me tell you, I have passed this message along.
    Our words- of encouragement or snarkiness- are like the dust of the wind. We let them loose- with nary a thought behind them- and from there they travel, reaching the ends of the earth. And, are impossible to recapture to put away. Psalms 34:12-15 were the guiding principle to an honored sage, the Chafetz Chayim (the Striver for Life), whose desire it was to insure that our speech was free of gossip, slander and defamation. It can only happen when each of us serve as an ambassador of this credo.
    Thanks for your well-crafted message!

  • Joan

    It was Tuesday, December 10th, and I was in the 4th grade. The boy I “liked” had given me a ring that day (you know, the cheap kind that would turn your finger green, yet at that moment, very precious to me). My Mom saw the ring and asked “where did you get “that”?? I can remember in that instant, making a conscious decision that “I will never again tell you anything important “. I was 10 years old. The underlying tone of that single comment colored our relationship for the next 44 years. I subconsciously filtered every interaction with her through that lens of shame – feeling like I just didn’t measure up. I also had a high school choir director tell me my voice wasn’t good enough to sing in his choir. He wasn’t unkind or anything, I just didn’t make the cut. But, probably fed by my filter of “you don’t measure up”, from then til now, nobody hears me sing. Amazing how deeply words can affect us.

  • Reader

    Dear Mr. Hyatt,
    Thanks for your fabulous website. I’ve never noticed anything unusual about your nose-I think that kid was just being obnoxious. I was bullied in middle school. I am African American and was even called the n-word by another student. The enemy targets the weak, and many times youth just don’t have the defenses yet to process the enemy’s lies. I wasn’t a Christian back then so I couldn’t look to the Bible or pray about it. Thank God for the difference Christ makes. We get to renew our minds with His thoughts.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Amen to that. Once I realized that God made me the way I am intentionally, I was at peace. Thanks.

  • http://conniemcknight.com Connie McKnight

    Your words impacted me today. Your example of that kid saying your nose was big was a perfect example of how a few hurtful words can stay with us a lifetime. Thank you for sharing that story.

  • Anonymous

    Michael

    Great post. I also wonder if there isn’t also another perspective one can have on this topic – those people at have said careless, or ill-considered words are empowering you also; they teach you to have ‘thick skin’ and to understand that the world can be tough, cruel and not always as easy as one would like. These can be important skills to learn.

    While it shouldn’t be necessary, it also highlights who your true friends are (isn’t it nice that your true friends are so easily visible in this way?).

    No one likes to hear nasty words, but I’m sure you’d also be able to look back and gloat as to what you’ve since achieved, versus what your detractors have achieved. No need to make a big deal out of that, but perhaps it’s not all coincidence.

    Matt

    • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

      What about when those closest to you, who should be the ones edifying and ecouraging you, are the ones continually speaking hurtful words to you? This doesn’t develop thick skins, it destroys souls.

  • http://www.KendraSmiley.com Kendra Smiley

    I was watching a movie I’d seen more than once when surprisingly I heard a piece of dialog that hadn’t caught my ear before. The leading lady was sharing that her family had always spoken negatively to her, telling her she had no talents and would never amount to anything. The leading man proceeded to encourage her, telling her she was bright, creative, and beautiful. Her reply was the line that shouted, “Why is it easier to believe the bad stuff?” Maybe the answer is found in John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;… The enemy had stolen her confidence, ambition, and attitude. BUT (the remainder of the verse) “I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. It’s our responsibility and privilege to speak wholesome words of life.

  • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

    It’s easier to look at the cruel words others have spoken to us, but how often do we stop and assess what we have said to others?

    Years ago I had a friend who regularly encourged and edified people through kind, thoughtful words. I decided that this was something we needed more of in our world and practised doing the same until it became part of who I am – an encourager.

  • Barbara

    Thanks for sharing this awesome post. I’m especially interested in the power of words, and shared this very verse from Ephesians in my Living Letters Seminar last week. If we all chose to speak words that lifted others up and focused on their needs, what a kinder world we’d create.

    I can relate to words that devastate; and I can recall words that changed the course of my life for the better. Some of the most positive words ever spoken to me were from my dad. He always affirmed that I could accomplish anything I wanted to if I set my mind to it. His words gave me wings!

  • http://twitter.com/john_gallagher john_gallagher

    Mike, thanks for sharing and yes words – both positive and negative – have shaped my life. Negative words have shaped me as to how NOT to be, but with 2 sons now, I know they face similar things that I did back in my teen years. I hate it for them.

    As far as positive words, absolutely! These are the reason I have a ‘WHY’ folder in my Outlook (one of only 2 folders I use based upon some advice from you as well). Whenever I receive and email or note of encouragement, I place it in that efolder. Then, when I am having a rough day, I go back to that folder…

    Thanks again for sharing…

  • http://shine4himphoto.wordpress.com Nicole

    This is definitely one I’ve dealt with!

    Words from an abusive boyfriend in high school made me feel worthless for years, until Jesus exposed the lies. Then a ministry partner repeated much of the same things, though he meant them as a joke. Insults really aren’t that funny.

    A professor in college told me I wasn’t working hard enough – after I spent five days with two hours’ sleep per night doing his homework. It’s hard to keep working so hard when you’re told your best is not good enough. I still struggle with this one at times.

    I’ve been on crutches for nearly six months, and my family makes comments when I ask them for help with something. They are just tired and don’t intend to be mean, but it makes me feel like such a burden. Luckily, I’m almost back to walking again.

    I guess the important part is focusing on what God has to say, not everyone around us.

  • http://twitter.com/DanielBecerra Daniel Becerra

    I have been in the US without parents since I was 14 years old. The first year was quiet lonely. I miss my parents terribly, but I hid it. I didn’t tell anybody, but eventually…. one elder fellow one day said to me in private “You know… it’s okay… I know what it’s like. I also grew without my parents for many years, and I suffered, just like you’re suffering now. I want you to know… you will be fine. I promise”. I barely contained the tears at that moment, but that instant changed me, to know an adult actually identified with 14 year old me.

  • Joyce Lawrence

    If we are lucky, we have at least one parent or mentor who teaches us how to deal with hurtful comments thrown our way. Sometimes it is more than commentary, it is a societal action that never makes it to the surface to be discussed, that lies undisturbed but very disturbing, and dibilitating for a long, long time within our sole. In the 3rd grade, sadly, my twin brother was forced to stay back a year in school because it was said “he could not read.” I saw an equal forced back because the school could not teach. It was a cruel punishment for a young man’s sole. As an attractive and outgoing girl growing up in an home with horses and chickens and kittens and cows, an inground swimming pool, a nice family and property owned in both the township where the more wealthy lived and in the borough where the less well to do lived, I was subject to ridicule by perhaps only a few, but
    by a few who worked cleaverly in their efforts to bring me down. Both jealous, a teacher, one, a peer, the other, and their efforts aimed at minimizing my self worth succeeded for a long, long time, because I let it fester within. As an attractive young woman in the business world in the mid 70’s, what you didn’t learn in college about human nature was quickly thrown at you in the working world men dominated. Probably true today, men are quick to tell you how their wives dont understand them, they are quick to belly up to the bar as if they were single and ready to begin dating again, and they didn’t take you near as serious as they did their male counterparts, as perhaps their first interest in attractive women took over their need to be serious in the business field. Ahh, yes, ones words do have lasting effects, but ones morality, or lack there of, lingers longer.

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  • TNeal

    My wife and I often disagree and we use disagreeable words but not damaging ones. I believe the Bible uses the metaphor of tearing down one’s own house when using destructive words and actions. I can’t imagine doing that to my wife and I grieve those moments when I said something stupid and/or hurtful in the past to others.

  • guest

    A friend of mine told another friend of mine I would be a terrible leader, and I actually decided to try out for a different student leader position in marching band because of it, because I thought I wouldnt have to do as much. I’m beginning to think it was a bad choice.

  • Stu Graff

    We are created in the Image of God. How did He create – He spoke creation into being. As we are in His image, our words also create. Everything we speak creates blessing or curse into anothers life or our own. Our words are loaded with spiritual power thats wielded mostly with out thought. As your blog states we are all aware of its impact on our lives, the wounds we carry from careless words but equally we are most likely unaware of all the blessing we have received from words of encouragement poured out over the years….

  • http://fortyeightflavors.wordpress.com Ro Manalo

    I have a classmate from high school whom I have recently gotten in touch with through Facebook. She asked me if I still remembered her and I said of course, I did. She told me later on that she would never forget me because I had told her back in high school that she had a very pretty nose. She said she always had confidence in how she looked because of what I said.

    I don’t even remember saying that but I guess I did, fifteen years ago. She does have a pretty nose. Amazing how powerful words are.

  • http://reflectionswithcoffee.com BettyMc

    I was at a Beth Moore Simulcast last fall and SHE talked about her nose too. Those of us at the table looked at each other and said, “nothing is wrong with her nose.”

  • http://www.squidoo.com/photos-by-russ Toni

    I have been a grandmother for 16 years. I can still remember the encouraging and positive comments from my 7th grade art teacher. He believed that I could create art and with a few apt words here and there I believed it too. I’m not an artist but I truly love the attempts that I make at creating art. This teacher emboldened me to try. He put a belief in my heart forever.

  • Anonymous

    The very beginning of my ministry career. I am 21 years old. The Senior Pastor and a very influential man in our fellowship of churches believed in me far beyond what I could ever believe for myself. He told me he believed I could one day pastor this church. That remark and many others like it from him have changed my life forever.

    ‘Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt . . .’ Col. 4:6

  • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

    W0rds have so much power to wound or heal. Thanks for writing this post, Mike, and more importantly, for living it thru your actions. Only having seen you in person a few times, I’ve often seen you give a genuinely affirming word to someone else. Thanks for being you.

  • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

    W0rds have so much power to wound or heal. Thanks for writing this post, Mike, and more importantly, for living it thru your actions. Only having seen you in person a few times, I’ve often seen you give a genuinely affirming word to someone else. Thanks for being you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jeff. You are very kind to say that.

  • Debbie

    I have a sister who has recreated her childhood memories of me,things that were hurtful in words and actions that she did twoward me she now has me doing the things to her. She tells people she picked my husband out, I got married at 17 ( I got married at 20 and a half) so now she is rewritting my history, she put the make on my husband a year after I got married and thank God he rejected her cold. When we grew up if I had something she wanted and I would not give it to her she just stole what ever it was… Now she tells lies about me and I just tell the truth which for her is hard to relive,we are in our 60’s and still her words and actions effect me. She has made it her life mission to continue the hate of our sibblings toward me I am sure the youngest sister does not recall us growing up and how it really was ,its not just words that hurts but the hurtful things a sister will do to each other. Where I wish her good she wishes me evil.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Stories are incredibly powerful, especially when they are wrong. Bad narratives can shape people’s lives for decades. Thankfully, you are telling yourself the truth. In the end, I believe truth will win out—if not in this life, then the next.

  • Ken Sim

    Thanks for sharing the three characteristics of wholesome speech of Ephesians 4:29.

    Ephesians 4:30 NKJV says: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

    What is “do not grieve the Holy Spirit”? Let the Bible answer.

    Reading Mark 3 verse 1:6 NKJV, verse 5 says: And when He(Jesus) had looked around at them(pharisees)
    with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man.”Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.”

    Jesus is angry at the lack of Grace.
    Jesus is grieved by the lack of Grace.

    Reading Ephesians 4:29 and 30 together we learned that speaking words that lift up, edified the hearers, that it may please the Holy Spirit in us. Its imparting grace to the hearers that it may not grieve the Holy Spirit.
    Jesus’ Words of Grace has definately impacted the life of the man who had the withered hand.

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  • http://twitter.com/slumbersixcon Joe Lalonde

    I can relate to this. In elementary school, I was picked on for my height. I still catch myself being self-conscious about it. It’s amazing how words like that can have such a huge impact.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It really is. I have found that I can know something intellectually, but emotionally still react in old ways.

  • http://twitter.com/dbonleadership Dan

    I have been hurt and have hurt others by my words. I make it a point to speak positive and kind words to others. I have learned how powerful words can be.

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  • Piltseemay

    I was googling some “fun facts” on the impact of words for a sermon I am preaching in New Mexico! It was amazing that I came across this! You even mentioned the two passages I am using! Would you mind if I told your story? I’d love it for an illustration.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      No, you are welcome to tell it. Thanks.

  • Happy-us

    Word are an important part of mindfulness, I have attended a person centred counselling course for two years. I am ADHD and Dyslexic, I have had a difficult childhood. With all that I am a happy, joyful, loving person who can see the beauty in the smallest thing. I have a passion and caring for all people and can see the beauty in the most lost person. I am very chatty and excited I love sharing which makes me open and honest.
    This weekend the group of 20 people put me in a position of humiliation which could have been very damaging. We where all sitting around a table together will me at the one end one of the girl then asked to share her view on group interactions. Then she turned to me and started to say the most cruel words and then 4 others joined in, I was in shock I started to shake tears ran down my face but no sound came out, my head was saying this is I guess feedback allow this moment, be still. Only one other voice her distaste at the scene all others where silent and never looked at me. The tutor never stopped the on slot.
    I left still in shock and have spent the time processing the words use, I would like to share.
     It is amazing what I learned in the Carl Rodgers approach about trust and also how that can be lost. A big thanks you to the group for the learning experience?
     
    For the one who stood strong her courage was beautiful and inspirational to me, she spoke up firmly against what was being said about me. I thank her for the learning experience and her practice of unconditional positive regard and mindfulness.
    The ones who had no mouth, (and the lack of contact afterwards) the silence was louder than the words.
     (In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”Martin Luther King)
    I am so happy, when the words were spoken to me I typed them out, if I had not, I would have not remember the exact words spoken. The inner power we all have is to be honest and express in a positive growth way was not present.
    What we feel and also to reflect why we feel that way is true freedom without guilt, anger, shame, blame, accuser or accused.
     
    1.     (I resent you) ->the first line mentioned by the first speaker
    When I look up the word resentment  (resent) it was how I took the word at the time, this is what it felt like.
     YES I talk too much; YES I am happy, excitable and have a love of life but is that a reason for another person to suffer so much. And for 8-9 Months
    This seems strange to me in so many levels?
    If I where uncomfortable approaching the offending person, I would approach a leader tutor for assistance. But to give so much of (THE SELF) to this seems to me that although I might be a trigger there is more going on for the person.
    This word does not fit with me or my inter actions with others and has never fitted with me.
     2.    (I take up to much time and space.)
    TIME I take up, this is in no way a NEED for me but a love of being involved and a love of sharing, NOT A NEED. Am I unaware at times of how much I talk YES. I hold I talk too much and forget to stop.
    SPACE when I think about it, how can one take up too much space. They can be large but it still would not be too much it is what their mass needs. So in the literal term I cannot take up too much space.
    Thinking abstractly, if one has an emotion or experience, which results in the offending person appearing to take up to much space. This for me is not an issue with the offending person but a question for (THE SELF).
     3.    (You use this as a counseling space.)
    I used my personal experience in a positive manner; like everyone did, yes I have a lot experience because I live my personal growth daily. My understanding was training for person Centered therapy was also focused on the person and experiences of the therapist not just the client and the theory. Not to forget we learn not just by doing but also by seeing, hearing, feeling and sharing experiences.
     4.    (You make me shut down and not enjoy this process.)
    Have I got the power to steal the learning and processes of this course from others?
    Have I got the power to force another to shut down?
     WOW, I think, NO I have no such power.
     What is it inside that ANY person could think another person has that amount of power over them?  If someone thinks that another has that amount of power over there own personal well being, then it is for them to question, What is going on that I feel I give that power to the other person? 
    5.    (What you say is not relevant.)
    Don’t we all say things that seem to one person irrelevant or out of context, but to another is just what they needed.  Are my words so irrelevant? Maybe however they are mine, “my now enlightened” verbal irrelevance does not dissuade me from being very intrigued and encouraged by the journey and passions of this life.
    If others do not have the courage or passion to question or speak out is this my responsibility. NO.
    If there word used means I do not get what the course is about or the topics being expressed, then the entire group including the tutor has failed one and other by not being a team.
     
    Do I talk too much, what is too much? So at times I do, does this deserve my public humiliation? NO.
    Do I own the feelings of others? NO.
    Can I read minds? NO.
    They could have been more self-aware of their thoughts and feelings, instead of allowing them to take over in a destructive way. They could have said, get of the train for 5 minutes. I don’t think you get what is being said. you’re rambling. I would have been fine with that because it was done with care and respect.
     
    Instead of here is all the shit within me, the stuff I could or would not express, the emotions that built up because of lack of expression and self awareness which has now stewed and got so out of control, I know have this need to blame and publically humiliate you, for what I could not look at, so here this feels better to give it to you. All of it. Ahh all better now.
     The tutor e-mailed me (it is certain you can learn to handle this better,
    ”If you want“?)
    How many people can handle a group’s attack on their person, the humiliation of hearing the words spoken as if they are responsible of another persons being. When in fact the simplicity of it was really you talk too much and waffle. The group setting to me was meant to be a place to practice Rodgers theory, a place existing of respect and trust, to explore all of us with genuineness and honesty. Which included, being truthful and honest in a safe and respectful way.
    My learning from the setting is NEVER TO CAUSE HARM to another person by inducing them into a state of shock by forcing them into a stressful humiliating situation. Especially when it happens unexpectedly, when they are unprepared, when they are left powerless to prevent it, and finally when the situation is cruel, harsh and publicly humiliating. And to try to remember to talk less. Thank you for the learning.
     (Tutors words. Please relax and have a nice day with the family) …mmmm I am a human being not a machine. I feel I must let you know, I do not take 5 minute to process that I can have such an impact on another persons soul.
     
    I am still not angry with the group.
    I am humiliated at the setting.
    I am deeply saddened to my core that no one gave a shit about me or my feelings, this was done with their silence and lack of contact to date.
    I do feel deeply sad for the inability of the speakers, to say 8 simple words (you talk to much give me a chance), and for their inability to express emotion, and allow it to build up to such a place, that they feel shut down and unable to enjoy a counseling course. And they need team support to get it out.
    I am sad that I spent so much time with the group and what I contributed was irrelevant and that the same people resent me so much that I felt the lashes of their anger.
    I wear I talk too much truly, deeply and honestly, but I am in no shape or form deliberately talking to make other so lost in their souls.
     It is a sad and cruel way to end this relationship and what was and is a wonderful journey. The difference between my accusers and me is simply courage and the belief in the self and personal process.
     It is long but it is a process of reflection and learning, thanks all

  • Floatsam09

    My dad was always verbally abusive.More than the bad comments from others,it is the ugly words from his mouth that has hurt us most.He has zero respect for people especially women and abuses my mother even though she is the most obedient hard working and intelligent woman I think he could have ever got for a wife.Whenever I hear him swear I wish he would one day sit and cry over the hurt he has hurled at others with his horrible careless words.

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    Watch out for that trap.http://www.moncler-cheap.org/

  • Jgram

    Unfortunately we usually hear (or remember) the negatives at an early age when we aren’t equipped to process it, it is a shame.  What we do with it depends on our support system.  As adults we need to remember how we felt and take the time to acknowledge all youth and let them know how important they are!  Wouldn’t you like to hear one day that you made a difference in a person life just by being kind?

  • http://www.katieganshert.blogspot.com Katie Ganshert

    This is SO true. I’ve always had really broad shoulders for a woman. I’m tall with an athletic build. I remember, in high school, some of the guys joking that they wouldn’t mess with me because I could beat them up. And then one joking that I’d fit in on the football team. I was self-conscious about my “un-feminine” body for YEARS! If I don’t check myself, I still can be.  

  • http://twitter.com/CheapLoveCarrie Carrie Starr

    I actually just wrote about this on my blog today.  An eleven-year-old recently committed suicide in our community as the result of bullying.  The harsh words of others caused this child to end her life.  It haunts me.  As the mother of an almost eleven-year-old, this has caused me to think seriously about the power of my words.  I am, by nature, a positive person and love to be encouraging.  But remembering that our words literally give life to others puts new weight on what I say to my son, and the many others I love in my life.  Thank you for this life-giving advice.

  • B.J.

    When I was 15 , I wanted to let my hair grow longer like my older sister. I was wearing it straight  for the first time. I started to walke out of the front door when my mother called me back inside. She said ” get back inside and fix your hair and put some makeup on, because you are nothing without makeup and your hair fixed up” . I am now 58 years old ,and every time I look in the mirror I still hear my Mother saying those awful words. I still pile on the makeup and I will not go anywhere without fixing my hair first.

  • gayathri

    ediot
     

  • jennifer

    My mother remarried after my dad was killed in Vietnam. When she had a new baby with her new husband he said, “At last I have a daughter. I always wanted a daughter.”
    I was crushed. I WAS a daughter. After that, I could never forget his words.

  • Pamprunpkr

    At my Mother’s graveside service a cousin I had never been close to and had only seen 2-3 times in the last 10 years gave me  what I thought was a comforting hug and at the same time made a comment about my being selfish. I can’t remember his exact words because, needless to say, I was stunned . Talk about a sucker punch! I cannot figure out what he meant by that as he barely knows me, so I did not respond. i cannot imagine anyone saying something like that, let alone at a time of such grief and pain. I certainly do not feel I deserve it. It bothered me so much that I mentioned it to his sister and she said it was just the way he and his male cousins talk to each other, with cutting sarcasm, etc. and she said that he certainly had no reason to say any such thing. And I do remember that growing up that is how they treated each other, as well as their uncle ( my wonderful Father) with what I thought was a lack of respect. She told me he has issues of his own…..always looking for the next big deal that never materializes, among other things.  I understand that and I bought her explanation, but it still bothers me so much and I don’t know why. I am hurt, but since my Mother’s passing everything hurts me and I suppose I am hypersensitive. As for being selfish, I took care of my Family for years and was there for them, and took care of my Mother in her final years, literally doing everything for her, and would gladly do it again. Sooooooo……..I don’t think that qualifies as being selfish. Anyway, just thought I would vent. I am trying to move on and not let it bother me, but when you try not to think of something, it seems that is all you can think of. 

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  • Cattstina

    so true    i had a boyfriend that belittled me, called me names and made me hate my body to the point i can’t look at myself sometimes.    its been almost two years and i still hear his comments.  

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  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    My old youth pastor said that I would never be the leader, just the 2nd in charge. Those words did haunt me for a while, then I chose to believe God’s words over me. Thank Goodness I didn’t accept those words for my life. I’ve had to fight those words off at one time or another.

  • http://www.stevefogg.com/ Steve Fogg

    I remember being a D grade student in French. The class was boring, the teacher not motivated. 

    Then it all changed. 

    A new teacher arrived with a new attitude. She was so positive. So encouraging. Her enthusiasm and personal encouragement towards me changed my grades from D to C+. Not a massive change on paper, but there was a massive change in my attitude and heart towards learning the language.Her words of encouragement were “500lb words” to this teenager.

  • Louise

    The comments are haunting…so much pain carried for so long. It seems we so often remember the negative, and every positive comment is forgotten. This is true for me too:  a decade ago someone made a thoughtless comment about my legs, and ever since I have been so self-conscious of them. 

  • Tim Curington

    You’ve don’t it again!  I am always so encouraged and challenged by reading your blog posts.  In JH and HS my voice was often the object of teasing.  Nasally as it was, I was encouraged by my godly parents to let God have my voice, regardless of how meager it was.  Soon after yielding my voice to God, I was called to preach and today I am the choir director and a soloist for my church.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Tim. I appreciate that.

  • Alycia Morales

    Thank you for this post, Mr. Hyatt. I, too, remember being made fun of as a child who had just moved into a new school in the middle of a school year. Those nicknames still reverberate through my mind every now and then, but God has allowed me to help my son endure teasing by sharing my stories with him. Constant reminders that God created us in His image and likeness are helping him overcome the negativity of his peers. I am thankful I had thick skin and could let the words fall off, eventually. I pray his compassionate heart doesn’t change due to the words of others. Such wisdom for leaders. I can’t wait to share the post with my circles of friends.

  • Grace Loftus

    Exactly true! people can give you great compliments but that one bad one will haunt your mind for days, months or even years. Society says that every human is beautiful yet they still think they have the right to make fun of peoples imperfections and insecurities. fat people, skinny people, curvy people, pimply people, scene people, white people, back people, preppy people. i think society should define their “idea” of beautiful a little bit better. because no matter how hard you try someone can find a fault in you.

    I step out of the shower, every night and stare at my reflection in the mirror. hating everything i see i fall to the floor and cry because i wish i wasn’t me. It started with talking behind my back or telling me my flaws and eventually you believe them and your own mind turns against you and becomes the monster. People make me question everything i never took notice to, i pretend i’m fine because, i mean come on, who would want to help the mucked up, suicidal girl? no one. 

    People just look at you like you’re a freak, attention seeker, crazy, metal, weird, awkward, worthless, freak, fat, a waste of time or well, you can think of the rest. 

    Society, teenagers, kids, parents, adults, grandparents all wonder why so many people commit suicide or why everyone seems to be getting depressed. i can tell you, it’s because in this generation we are all so bloody judgmental. Don’t lie to yourself and say you have never even looked at someone and thought of something bad, even if you didn’t say it , you thought it. people were created to be loved. thing were created to be used. the reason the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used. 

    It’s enough growing up, figuring out who you are and what on earth you wanna be, and it just it doesn’t help when people are constantly putting you down. people only see the bad and never the good, we need to be heard. Bullying and judgments need to stop, if you were the kid being told their a waste of space, how would you feel? 

    I’m a 14 year old girl with major depression who self-harms, high dysthymia, moderate bipolar disorder, cyclothymia, seasonal affective disorder, binge eating disorder, trust issues, my mum is my bully, and no one trusts me. My friends all talk behind my back, no one knows my story yet they feel they have the right to judge or comment on who i am and why i am that way, when in reality they have no damn clue! 

    When i am older i want to help all those people in the world like me that never got the chance to call for help. thank you. 

  • Butterflyfilly

    My mother always told me if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say it at all. Now that i am in high-school i see the effects this truly does have on people. I’m not saying i’m an expert on this subject, because i now i have said things that have hurt my friends and family. And i am beyond sorry for doing that. So my goal is to try with all i can to say nice and encouraging things about people if i’m around them or not. And even when i don’t like someone try to stay calm, cool, and collected. Just because you know someone doesn’t mean you have to hang out with them all the time and tell them everything, but it also doesn’t mean you have the right to distray them and tear them down with there words. The world would be so good if we built each other up instead of tearing each other down!

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  • Keith7sherry25

    You know its a fact, everyone has something about them that they would like to change. I remember reading once about a comment made by Miss America of I believe the year of 1975. She was viewed by most of America as the prettiest woman in America. Her personal comment was that she did not like her dimples! Our adversary wants us to spend Millions of dolars trying to improve upon our outer exterior while we suffer as human beings made in the image and likeness of our Creator. I recently read about Jesus appearance, and it stated in Isaiah that he was not the most attractive human that ever lived, but he was by far the most effective!

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  • Nora Faram

    I had a student who is African American tell me that she was offended when someone used the word “need” as in “you need to be here on time…”she said it was cultural. Aside from the obvious in using this word in ways that make people feel that they are being spoken to as if they were a child, do you have any information or comments about the cultural aspect of the use of this word?

    Thanks!

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  • JEFF

    WORDS GO FAR BEYOND POWERFUL. FOR ME AS A CHILD THEY WERE NOT ONLY POWERFUL BUT MAGICAL AND BELIEVABLE. WHAT I HEARD BACK THEN AND PERCEIVED WAS WHAT CREATED THE INTERNAL PIECE OF MY PUZZLE. I’M ACTUALLY IN THE PROCESS OF WRITING A BOOK ON THIS TOPIC AND HAVE A MASTERS DEGREE OF EXPERIENCE EVER SINCE THE AGE OF 3. COLLEGE CAN’T TEACH HOW DEEP THIS TOPIC IS WITH ME. HAVE A GREAT DAY TODAY.

  • Melinda Todd

    So many times! As a 3rd grader, we sat with our desks in groups of 4. This one girl who was snotty and somehow popular, pounded on my desk with, “Wimpy, wimpy, wimp!” and then pounded on the other 3 desks of her and her friends with the rest, “Hefty, hefty, hefty!” It was mean and stupid. It did hurt my feelings but at the same time, I remember thinking that it was ridiculous. Last year when my precious niece was born, I was telling my friends about her conditions – she had club feet and arthogryposis – my good friend actually turned to me and said, “it’s not that big a deal.” Wow. I replied with, “actually it is.” and she in turn said, “actually it’s not”. All she had heard was the club foot part and she never listened or cared about the rest and it still hurts today. I would never in a million years say something like that to someone about their family or the concerns they have for a loved one. I have to pray about this one a lot to keep it from making me bitter toward her.

  • Linda

    Your post has stirred a lot of angst… And rightly so. This is a great principle to heed. My children are now adults but on a regular basis I send each of them an email with the subject line “I believe in you!” Then in the body of the email I share my thoughts and observations about their strengths or I try to nudge him or her when I see that all he or she needs is a little encouragement. For me, the things left unsaid have made indelible marks on my heart and my psyche. I don’t want our children to have any doubts about how much I love them and how blessed my life is because of them. They are truly gifts from the Lord. I want them to know I treasure these gifts.

  • Mark Hoaglin

    Oh how we need this message today in our uncivil society. Thanks.

  • Julia S. Butler

    As a fellow wordsmith, I’ve spent many years using my skills to get my points across. Another Scripture to remember is:”Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. I will repay.” The conclusion I’ve come to, Mike, is that either the person on the receiving end of your words understands your intent, that is, ‘gets it’, or they totally misconstrue what you said and will try to take those words to rend you, as in giving pearls to swine. Solomon said something profound when he said knowledge is vexation. If you try to share it with those who can’t receive it, it’s like beating your head against a brick wall. Like, the people whom you told computing was the wave of the future back in ’89 and ’90 are now so wonderful in their technology that they disregard you. The crabs in the barrel are alive and well, unfortunately. They just don’t know they’re about to be exterminated!

    This sounds terrible, but thanks for letting me get it off of my chest. God Bless you.

  • Alex Watson

    Thanks Michael. Great post as usual. Your post reminded me of a song I wrote, so I’ve put the lyric in my blog. I’ll share it here…I hope you don’t mind: http://s0ngb1rd.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/those-words-cut-so-deep/

    Those Words

    I can talk and talk until my face is black and blue

    Something’s got me feeling like it’s all a game to you

    Don’t you think it’s funny how the light is fading from my smile?

    More and more obvious were worlds and worlds apart

    My sharp observation is your casual remark

    The words you throw away

    Weigh me down like a ball and chain

    The words you throw away

    You’re words cut so deep

    Nothing I appear to say is getting thru to you

    Now you got me wandering just what I’m going to do

    You don’t understand the way I feel about the things you say

    No romantic notions of a love that’s meant to be

    My illusions shattered – Baby you’re not hearing me

    The words you throw away

    Weigh me down like a ball and chain

    Those words you throw away

    Those words cut so deep

  • http://myfreshlybrewedlife.com/ Barbie

    What a great article. I have to say that positive self talk has been my demise. I know it originated from someplace when I was very young. But it’s taking me a life time to speak nice to myself about myself.

  • Bob

    I knew of a senior executive, who was told by his boss that in spite of his good work in the organization he should retire as he had crossed 60 years of age. On hearing these words, the ‘retiree’ truly started feeling old and even stopped trying to secure any other job. It was only after he was counselled that he felt he had much more to offer and it was not the time to retire even if he was made to feel ‘old’. This individual now has secured another job and is contributing. I totally agree that words can have a severe psychological impact on individuals.

  • valerie

    Great article! Eph 4:29 is going to be a verse that I memorize. These are good words to live by. One of my former pastors was great at edifying people. He would start with ‘I appreciate …’. His example is something I try to emulate. Thank you, and have a blessed Christmas.

  • another way to look at this

    This is why art is so important to our lives. The movie Roxanne provides many better slurs on a big nose than “Man! You have one BIG nose!”. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093886/quotes Though that is actually putting down the person who made the slur, and may not be the best way to deal with the slur, it was humorous. Hearing you had a big nose was a chance to get the kids laughing and make you appreciated. In addition to parents working to build kids’ self-confidence by saying the right thing, they should teach children how to build their own self-confidence: count your blessings, be nice to the kids who are outsiders, smile at yourself in the mirror everyday, be helpful to others, volunteer, learn things. Learn to figure out why those kids showed their own insecurities by making a nasty comment to you, and what you can do to help them.

  • Kris Kelbrants

    My mom often says to me when your eyes sparkle and shine when you’re smiling I know you are truly happy and I know Jesus is shining through your eyes to others. I always think about whether my eyes are shining and I am sharing Jesus with others in that moment. If I don’t feel that I am, I regroup and make sure that I am!

  • Tina Smith

    Words are powerful tools to express ones ideas. I am using a site favoritewords.com to mine out new words and I have found it very useful. Since it is beta, it lacks some features but I am sure you’ll love using it.

  • Windi

    I think we all have a self-doubt soundtrack playing in our head. Part of mine was, “You’ll never be a leader.” It isn’t true, but when I am at a low point, those are the first words to come back to me.

  • Tina Smith

    Who says one cannot earn money online with a computer and an internet connection. I joined http://www.insaneincomecoaching.com/ and would you believe it , I made $2147 in a fortnight?

  • Jennifer DeFrates

    I just wrote about the importance of our words as parents in my blog today. How timely to find this article. http://heavennotharvard.com/2014/05/20/be-careful-little-tongue/

  • http://davidleesample.com David Sample

    Many years ago in a moment of despair i asked the question, “how can i be whole” What was revealed to me through this question was the deep seeded belief on my part that i was not very bright. The seeds of this belief i found in the phrase, “you are so bright but!” I recognized this phrase as something i had heard for much of my life. The “but” at the end of this statement negated the positive that came before it. The simple adjustment of replacing the “but” with “and” would have had an entirely different impact on what i held to be true. Let me further illustrate the power of words by sharing the following poem titled “Words”: We think it, we say it, we become it and it becomes our legacy, The person who spoke the words, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”, Knew not of what they spoke, While bones may heal, the ill-placed comment inflicts a wound, Living in the mind of the receiver it remains an open sore, Repeated by the receiver it becomes a sword, Lived by the receiver is how they become known, To come full circle to the legacy they leave, All by the power of a single spoken word. Excerpt from “Listen To The Whisper” Balboa Press Nov. 2013 by David Sample

  • Kin Tue_Fee

    The words I say to my self and/or while thinking of a loved one in need are:
    I am sorry; Please forgive me; I love you; Thank you – Ho’oponopono
    These are wholesome and healing words passed down through generations of Hawaiian spiritual tradition.
    http://www.kintue-fee.com

  • Maxine Thompson

    I am intrigued by the background information that you have
    used from the Bible. Most times authors tend to not use it because it makes them “over spiritual”. The word of God written in the Bible has stood the test of time and in my opinion a credible source from which to make reference. Words are the most powerful tools we have that builds or tears down.

    I agree that our word impact on others should be one that leaves them better and ready to take on the challenges of life.

    This is a cause that I support – words; their impact, being good/positive or bad/negative. Let us
    continue the conversation and encourage each other to be positive with our words!