10 Environments Negative Words Create @ Work

All of us work in a certain kind of environment; either good or bad, creative or not. And those environments are created by the words that we use. In this past series, “31 Words.com” we talked about how to use the 31 words that create the 6 sounds. Now let’s make application of them at work. Here are ten environments created at work with negative words. Think about them. Ponder them and then you can talk about them among your teams and see if any of these things are true about you where you work.

1. Negative words create an environment of suspicion. When you use gossip, innuendo, or downright deception, everyone lives in suspicion. Who can you trust? Who truly has your back?

2. Negative words create an environment that undermines authority. Most everyone I know bristles at least a bit at authority, but it’s necessary for any structure or process to be healthy. There has to be line of responsibility and, yes, authority. Negative words about your boss, or your boss’s boss, or your up-line or down-line, your team leader, your CEO, or your vice president have a way of reaching into every other relationship in the company. When you undermine authority, when no one respects it, it’s very difficult to get anything done.

3. Negative words create an environment where trust is eroded. Let’s be honest. Trust is the foundation on which everything stands and the power that creates forward motion. When trust is eroded in relationships, it’s hard to make widgets or deliver services that come anywhere near excellence.

4. Negative words create an environment in which cooperation is sabotaged. How can I cooperate with people I don’t trust, who I see cutting other people down, or gossiping about others? I wonder are they saying one thing to me but another thing behind my back?

5. Negative words create an environment that will drive away quality people. Have you noticed that really good people are not taking the job openings, but you’re attracting more mediocre people? This can be traced back to the words that are being used particularly during interviews.

6. Negative words create an environment that attracts sad dogs spreading gloom. This is because when they are interviewed by negative people, they figure they can eventually take that person’s job. Sad, negative people attract one another. In the work environment, likes attract. So if you’re attracting the kind of negative people who spread gossip, who just simply show up and do the basics, it may be for a reason.

7. Negative words create an environment in which people only show up for money. Let’s be honest. People don’t really work for money anymore. They barely show up for it. What they really work hard for and go the extra mile for is people; people they love, they like, and they want to be around. They do things for love, for passion, for interest. If you’re in an environment of negative words, it’s really hard to create that.

8. Negative words create an environment in which it’s really hard to see into the future or be outwardly focused. If you’re in an environment where all you’re talking about is inner controls and inner problems, it’s very difficult to deal with markets and opportunities.

9. Negative words create an environment which is hostile to change. Change happens whether you like it or not. If you’re not keeping up with it, you’re going to soon be out of business. The only environments in which change happens in a healthy way are high-trust environments. We’ve already talked about how negative words deteriorate trust.

10. Negative words create the ultimate demise of a company. You put all these things together; creating suspicion, undermining authority, tearing down trust, sabotaging cooperation, losing quality people, and attracting mediocre people, eventually any company will die. It doesn’t matter what it is.

Go back through these and talk to your fellow employees in your organization and ask, “What kind of environment are our words creating?”

When Something Irreplaceable is Returned

If you were at The Gathering this past weekend, you heard a story I told about my most prized possession – my grandfather’s cane. I bought it after he died at an estate sale for 75 cents over 33 years ago. The sad news was, the cane went missing. In transition from my old position, several of my most prized items went missing; none more important than my grandfather’s cane. I had accepted it as just a part of what had happened and there was no use worrying about it.

But when I used the fact that I had lost it as part of an illustration this past weekend, Debbie Seldon got it on her heart to go find it. And find it, she did. And last night, when we all gathered to help our good friend Steve Lamm in the opening of his brand new studio here in Nashville, Debbie brought it and presented it to me.

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to thank her. I didn’t know how much that simple little cane, that 75-cent possession of mine meant to me. All of the sudden I could remember my grandfather, his smell and what it was like to be with him; how safe I felt, and how wise he seemed in those days.

Thank you, Debbie Seldon, for your initiative. By the way, that’s at the heart of leadership, isn’t it? If you were to ask Debbie if she were a leader, she’d probably say, “no.” She is one of those people who gives tirelessly and does tirelessly, but loves to do it behind the scenes.

But the truth of the matter is, a leader is someone who takes initiative, and Debbie certainly knows how to do that. And because of that, I now can put my grandfather’s cane in a safe place, here in my home where I will be able to enjoy it.

Here is a lesson. Not all good things that are gone, are gone forever. Sometimes they come back. And sometimes they have to come back as God places on the heart of someone else to take initiative to give it back.

Not too many months ago my wife and I went through a major transition where we thought our dream had been stolen from us, taken away. And yet an awful lot of people, whose names you may never know, took the initiative. And today we are part of something more exciting than we’ve been around in a very long time. Lives are being changed and people are having fun. There’s a lot of laughter and a lot of joy. I’m not hung up on structure and procedure and territory. Thank God for freedom!

If you’re enjoying your life today, thank God for those who are the ones who sometimes bring back to you the lost treasure. Tell them so. Let them know.