Honey Versus Vinegar

Ink on Black Mixed Media Paper – Words: Federico Fellini

I had a great conversation today with a new client. We spent time discussing their issue and getting to know each other. It was a chance for us to get to know each other better and discover ways in which we were very much alike. One of the building blocks was how we each communicated about ourselves and our ideas, the “how” was what helped create a stronger connection.

Words have power. They have the power to build or decay, encourage or destroy. It may not be as much about what we say but how we say it. I love that this quote is from Federico Fellini an Italian Film Director who is famous for how he conveys his idea in cinema. Choosing to use our words to convey and idea, a concept, a point, or a constructive suggestion is a great skill and not one that comes easily.

There is a story about Abraham Lincoln when he was an upshot, brisk and brutal lawyer. He wrote an editorial for the local paper that was seething with unkindness and cruelty about a specific man in the town. The man was so broken up about what Lincoln wrote that we had a breakdown and was never the same again. Lincoln was so shocked by the power of his words and message the he vowed NEVER to write or utter words again that could inflict such harm on another person. I believe that this experience shaped his word usage and communication style throughout the rest of his days.

Sure there is an important message you want to communicate. Yes the other person needs to hear and understand what you have to express. And of course you want to say it so the message is clear. Is what you want to say kind, spoken with compassion and good intentions, or have you been holding on to your anger and resentment that you will take any chance to let it out? The reason for the message always come through, even if we think we are being funny. It is not always what you say but how you say it that the person remembers. When our intentions are for their benefit the door is left open for clarifications, discussions and more commentary to help deliver the true message of your words.

Today before you write or speak think not just about what you want to say, think more about how you want to say it. As Abraham Lincoln always said you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

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