By Lisa Earle McLeod
Keynote Speaker and Author
McLeod & More
Do you want to know the one thing you can do that will make every single one of your relationships significantly better?
It’s easy. If you think a kind thought, say it. Out loud.
How many times have you thought, “Wow, my co-worker is really great with customers,” or “Gee, I love to hear my kids laugh,” yet kept the thought to yourself?
Here’s the big secret.
We’re all constantly trying to figure out what other people think about us.
In the absence of someone telling us directly, we draw our clues from their facial expressions and body language.
Someone may be thinking, “That’s a great presentation.” But if their face is fixed in a grim look, even if it’s a look of concentration, we’ll assume they don’t like what we’re saying.
Let me spell it out even more directly.
If you are thinking nice thoughts about the people around you, yet your facial expressions and body language continually reveal how tired you are in your own life, people will interpret your mannerisms as a reflection of how you feel about them.
In the absence of positive words, people will assume that you don’t like them or care about them. This is true in a work environment and in our personal lives.
Without positive language, our thoughts err on the negative side.
Fortunately there’s an easy fix. Just say it!
If there was ever a moment when you looked across the room at your wife and thought, “Wow, she’s beautiful,” say it.
If you ever looked at your boss or co-worker and thought, “He’s really smart,” tell him.
If you ever looked at your kids and thought, “Wow, I sure am lucky,” let them know.
The payback is immediate and enormous. As Mother Teresa once said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
When you make someone else feel fabulous, it circles right back to you. You get the immediate win of elevating the current conversation. You also get the long-term win of having your kind words echo in their heart when you’re not around. Which not only makes them feel better about themselves; they’re more predisposed to feel better about you.
If you’re still stuck in the camp of “Why should I have to tell my employees they’re doing a great job—isn’t their paycheck enough?” or “Why should I have to tell my spouse I love them; I’m still here aren’t I?” here’s what you need to do:
I can’t say this more plainly: Get over yourself.
Here’s why: By not verbalizing positive words, you’re not only cheating other people out of a great experience, you’re cheating yourself.
I’ve coached executives around the world, and I can tell you the real reason people don’t share their positive thoughts is because of their own discomfort with anything that hints of emotional engagement.
But this isn’t emotionally risky; it’s emotionally easy. You don’t have to make up anything, you don’t have to wax eloquent, or worry about choosing the perfect words. Just verbalize what you’re already thinking.
I promise, nothing bad will happen to you when you share kind thoughts.
If you’re still on the fence, ask yourself what would happen if your boss or spouse did this for you?
And what are you missing out on by not doing it for them?
About Lisa Earle McLeod
Business strategist Lisa Earle McLeod is an expert in sales force and leadership development. An author, consultant, syndicated columnist, media commentator, and keynote speaker, she is recognized as a thought-leader whose latest book, The Triangle of Truth, was named a Washington Post Top 5 Business Book for Leaders.
A bottom-line-oriented business advisor whose firm, McLeod & More, Inc. was featured in Fortune magazine, she is also a problem-solving expert whose conflict-resolution handbook was delivered to every member of the House and Senate. And she’s a leadership contributor for Forbes.com, she blogs regularly for The Huffington Post, and she has written more than 500 articles.
This high-energy keynote speaker who has rocked the house everywhere from Apple to Pfizer to The United Way is a repeat guest on “Good Morning America” and has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows.
McLeod’s clients range from pharmaceutical to financial services, including Ann Taylor, Capital G, West Pharmaceutical, Black & McDonald, Kimberly-Clark, CMIT, and numerous franchises and entrepreneur organizations. She is also a personal-development expert whose first book “Forget Perfect,” was featured in The New York Times, and continues to sell a full decade after the original printing. Her essay collection, “Finding Grace When You Can’t Even Find Clean Underwear,” was featured on Oprah.com.