Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

October 29, 2013

Words Matter. Act Like It.

In early 335 B.C., Alexander the Great began his quest for world domination.  No other ruler had the passion for conquest like Alexander.  Not even his father, Philip II of Macedon, who had expanded the Greek empire further than any king before him. After ten years of fighting, Alexander arrived at the edge of India without having lost a single battle.  His army controlled most of the known world at that time — Greece, Egypt, and what had been the Persian empire.   But Alexander wanted more.

The problem was that men were tired.  They had followed him for ten years — fighting thousands of miles across lower Europe, into Africa, and to the edge of the Middle East.    Far away from families and wives, they languished in fatigue, without the rage to conquer another empire.

Alexander gathered his men together and delivered an impassioned speech: “I observe, gentlemen, that when I would lead you on a new venture you no longer follow me with your old spirit.

I have asked you to meet me that we may come to a decision together: are we, upon my advice, to go forward, or, upon yours, to turn back?

I will make those those who go the envy of those who stay.”

The right words make a big difference.

The king’s speech inspired his men to push into India, wrestling control of a country that no other ruler had been able to master

You don’t have to be in too many shouting matches to figure that when things get heated it’s very easy to say things that are cruel. Things that are unfair or highly manipulative, hurtful, and mean.

These sort of words rise quickly to the top of an angry argument especially when you feel like you are losing the fight. And then, instead of arguing about the original reason for your fight, you find yourself trying to hurt the other person.

That’s because words are effective weapons.

What is especially interesting about those angry moments where you say hurtful things is that those cruel words didn’t just magically come out of your mouth. They were words shaped by thoughts that you had been doing a good job keeping bottled up inside you. Bottled up for good reason too.

But once you say the words out loud you can’t take them back. The words are out there. The emotions they create. The way they make people feel.  You can’t take that back.

So it’s important to act like words matter.

You don’t need to act fearfully. Or even carefully. You need to use words purposefully.

Here are a few things to remember :

  1. Any word spoken angrily is an angry word, even even if you can use it peacefully in another setting.
  2. Whining words create irritation, anger, and fear — not sympathy. Check your tone of voice.
  3. Passive aggressive words are confusing for everyone listening. Especially you.
  4. If you want people to take action, then use action words. And speak to them using second person.
  5. If everything you talk about is “I’s” and “Me’s” then don’t be confused when you don’t get a lot of help.
  6. Use words that make the mission personal for the other person.
  7. There is nothing you can say to be interesting when you’ve talked too long. Fewer words make for more interesting conversation.
  8. Good conversations require words that inspire trust, confidence, and intrigue.
  9. Ask smart questions and people will believe you’re a smart person.
  10. Grateful and thankful words work better then abusive words.

The wrong words can make your life miserable

Just because you need to say “what’s on your mind” doesn’t give you permission to be a jerk. You don’t get a chance to take things back, hurt people, or re-explain idiot behavior.  Words matters.  Act like it.

Actions might speak louder than words, but words are the best way to drive better actions.

That’s important to remember when you need to get things done. Say what’s important. Be purposeful. Take responsibility for results of the words that you use. Be powerful.

Words matter. So act like it.

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.