“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.”

– Colossians 4:6

THE POWER OF WORDS

At an introductory meeting with a potential business contact to exchange ideas, I was confronted with a request that revealed the true intent of the meeting. After the normal exchange of introductions and pleasantries, I was asked by the other person if he could be my mentor for a fee of two hundred dollars an hour. I recoiled in my mind and wondered why someone would go into sell mode in the first five minutes. It revealed to me the man’s true purpose: not to exchange ideas as he had originally stated, but to harvest money. Because of that one question, I checked out of the meeting, having pleasantly continued just long enough to not offend him.

“When we talk long enough, our words reveal who we are.”

Over time, we learn to discover who is sincere and who isn’t. By listening carefully, we get the clues. It’s in what people ask and their level of interest in us. If it is sincere, the words will be in the form of questions to get to know us. We will know people’s level of interest in us by their use of the word “I” or “me.” Used too often these words indicate self-focus. Do the other person’s words suggest partnership? Is the language appropriate for the meeting? Is the context of his or her comments designed to explore or tell? Are the words gracious or are they demeaning? These are the clues we can derive from the words people use. When we talk long enough, our words reveal who we are.

“The Bible tells us the power words have and calls us to be cautious in what we say and how we say it.”

I was always amazed by Peter Brown, the treasurer of Foot Locker. He would come out of a meeting and tell me exactly what actually just got said. He deciphered this not only by the words that were used, but also by their timing and context. Peter himself was always interested in others. His words were almost always gracious, and people liked and trusted him. He was unfailingly polite and courteous. His words revealed a genuine interest in the other person. Words mattered to Peter, both in what he said and what he heard.

The Bible talks about the power of words and calls us to be cautious in what we say and how we say it. It asks us to be gracious and seasoned with salt. Salt symbolizing integrity and wisdom. People will hear this in our words. Not just in the words we say, but in when we use them. When our hearts are oriented toward being gracious and mutual, our words will flow in the same vein.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

How do we prepare for an important meeting?

Do we think of the other person when we ask questions?

Do we seek our agenda or a mutual agenda?