Words Matter: 7 Ways to Get a Grip on Your Tongue


Doing the right thing doesn’t erase saying something stupid.

“Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds…” Frank Outlaw, late president of Bi-Lo

Words are hinges between thought and action.

Accountable for:

Stupid words return with misery on a leash.

You learn to be accountable for your words when the things that come out of your mouth come back and bite you on the butt.

You have a problem with the words you say to yourself and others if you’re constantly battling misery.

Action matters. But foolish words contaminate good actions.

  1. You gossiped about a colleague. Now you’re putting out fires.
  2. Emotional heat got you in hot water.
  3. You felt insecure and stretched the truth.
  4. You belittled your boss and lost a promotion.
  5. Office drama drains your time and energy.

The enduring value of your leadership hangs on the things that come out of your mouth.

It doesn’t matter how hard you try when your words keep punching you in the face.

Leaders are accountable for their words. That includes attitude and tone.

Open your mouth to:

  • Add energy. The power of words is experienced in the energy they give.
  • Create clarity.
  • Define problems AND design solutions.
  • Transform difficulty into opportunity.

7 ways to get a grip on your tongue:

  1. Choose a positive purpose for your words. Only open your mouth to make something better. (This is the ultimate rule of communication for leaders.)
  2. When in doubt, zip it.
  3. Never let bitterness control your vocabulary. Kindness heals. Bitterness corrupts.
  4. Every rash word makes you bleed.
  5. Don’t open your mouth to prove you are right.
  6. Apologize when you say harmful things. If someone brings up an offense again, apologize again.
  7. “I didn’t mean to,” attempts to justify an offense. Just apologize.

What are some dumb things you’ve said or heard leaders say?

How might leaders get a grip on their words?

Originally published on the Leadership Freak blog.


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: