Have you ever heard the saying: “It’s easier to catch flies with honey?” Sometimes I find that it’s not what you say, but how you say it. The delivery alone can make a message so much easier to receive. Need those dishes washed? Ask nicely. Need those buns buttered? Say how much you would love and appreciate it! This same rule applies in the workplace with crazy people – I mean professionals. Why does it seem like the loudest people with the most to say, can’t hear themselves?
People may hear your words, but they FEEL your attitude! - John C. Maxwell
While most people may not admit it, sometimes the energy that we give off is based on the energy that we receive. This could be from upper management, elders, or other people who hold important roles in our lives. But what happens when the leader, the role model, the person that you turn to for advice or guidance is setting an inappropriate or just nasty tone? Take note… Think about what they have taught you and told you, and the way it was delivered. Then, think about how it made you feel. Did it make you stronger? Did it help you learn something about yourself or correct a bad habit? Or did it simply help you to realize that your leader is not such a great leader at all? Whether good or bad, we can always add to our lists of things To Do or Not To Do.
I’ve had the privilege to work with great leaders and I’ve also had the unfortunate circumstance of working for horrible leaders, that made me wonder how they slithered their way into the position at all! But what I learned consistently from some of my favorite leaders was that they always made people their number one priority. They made people feel like they were important, that what they do is important, and they want to help them become better individuals. The thing about people is, they are a package deal, they come with families, past issues, and emotions. People want to feel valued. As a mom, kids can make you feel unappreciated – quick, fast, and in a hurry! Now couple that with ungrateful people at work asking you for everything but giving nothing in return. Ain’t nobody got time for that! (Yep you read it correctly!)
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. - James Baldwin
It is very necessary that you say what you mean and mean what you say. But say it as though you will turn around and kiss your mother with that same mouth! As I reflect upon my experiences as an adult, I have just a few tips for getting what you want and successfully setting the tone at the top:
- Know your audience. You can’t talk to everybody the same way. Remember when your mom told you she wasn’t one of your little friends? It’s the same in the workplace as well. We have to keep in mind that we are there to do a job and maintain that cash flow. So we have to be mindful of our word choices and be respectful of others. Connect with your people and meet them where they are. If you try NOT to offend people, chances are you won’t.
- Kill ’em with Kindness. I have never heard of somebody getting a complaint because they were too kind. They don’t want to speak to you? Say good morning anyway. They’re always negative? Continue to hit them with the brighter side.
I remember growing up telling my mom she yelled too much. Now as a mom, after I have gotten tired of yelling and I speak to my kids in a quiet, almost whispering tone, they seem to be more afraid. Every kid is different so the delivery may not match each personality. It’s ok to adjust.
- Know when you’re the problem. Do people constantly tell you about your tone? Do they say you are aggressive or sound angry? Would people describe you as heartless or emotionally detached? It’s never too late to take a look in the mirror and say, “Dang I was wrong!” Change is inevitable. It may take therapy and actually doing the work, but it can happen.
- Say please and thank you – it’s free. I promise there is no age limit or cutoff on this, and it won’t cost you a thing. A simple please goes a long way, especially when what you’re asking for is not a requirement. And thank you?! This will get you so much further in the future. How many times have we done something for someone and they didn’t have the decency to say thank you? Hence, you never helped them again. Don’t be that person.
- Create an environment that people enjoy, that sparks joy, and exudes love!! Let people know you have their back and that you will be accountable for your actions. Show them you care, give them tokens of your appreciation, and ask them for feedback that you will actually consider! Have fun, do things that make you smile, and be the change you wish to see!
No one is perfect. We all have room to grow and learn from each other. So the next time you ask someone to do something for you, the next time you’re about to lose it on your kid, take a breath and check your tone. Literally, you can stop mid-sentence and start over if you have to, and try a different approach. See how it goes. Whatever happens, focus on being the best you that you could possibly bee (see what I did there)!
Now go be bold, be fly, and by all means – Be You! 🦋