Words have incredible power. They can be uplifting or destructive. Think back to a time you heard something nasty someone said about you—you probably felt angry, hurt, or rejected. Now, think about a time when you received authentic praise. It probably raised your spirits and boosted your confidence. It might have revealed something about yourself that you never fully appreciated!
Now consider your own words and what you’ve said about others. Sometimes our words stay solely with the receiver. Other times, they go in a million directions outside of our control, especially when we use social media, e-mail, or text messages. These days it doesn’t take much for a spark to ignite a fire.
What we say about others speaks volumes about our character—especially when we communicate about someone who is not present. They reflect our integrity, loyalty, kindness, and respect, not to mention our self control and self esteem!
One way to demonstrate excellent character is to only say things about others we wouldn’t mind them overhearing. That’s right—everything is constructive! Try this “Integrity Challenge” for a week and be amazed by how it affects your choice of words, and ultimately, your character and spirit! It makes us more tactful and respectful, and less judgmental. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it!
Then, do it the next week and the next and the next. And, soon it will become a habit. This simple idea might be the best anti-bullying strategy of all!
While we’re at it, let’s start a movement in our schools—let’s take the Integrity Challenge. What is said or written about others is neutral or positive, with students holding each other accountable. Any criticism is constructive and only shared face to face. And, when we slip up, we apologize and ask for forgiveness.
What if we challenged ourselves and those around us—our families, friends, co-workers, teachers, students, etc.—to live by this principle? What if it became a way of life in how we think, relate, and communicate about others? Can you even imagine the possibilities? It would literally change the world—in a wonderful way! Are you up for it?
What are your habits when it comes to talking about others? Teachers and parents: This is a good piece of advice to share with the young people in your life, especially those who are active on social media.
About the author
Dennis Trittin is the author of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead and Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. Through his books, blog, and nationwide speaking engagements, Dennis prepares students for life success and equips parents and educators in their vital training role. You can find him here on Facebook.