“Let your life be a stepping stone to Christ and not a stumbling block.” 1 Cor. 8:13 & 10:31
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify God who is in heaven." Matt. 5:16
By Robert J. Tamasy
Revenue and expenses. Credits and debits. Assets and liabilities. Deposits and withdrawals. Each of these terms is used in the business and professional world to measure what is commonly referred to as “the bottom line.” If you can keep your revenues ahead of your expenses, accumulate more credits than debits, and hold more assets than liabilities, your business is probably in good shape.
Deposits and withdrawals are typically utilized in banking terminology, but they also can be used in terms of relationships, whether in the home or the workplace. We each have what psychologists call an “emotional tank,” and when that “tank” is full, we feel contented and at ease; when the tank is depleted, we feel discontented and stressed.
There are numerous ways for making deposits into someone’s emotional storehouse, such as offering time and attention. Sometimes an appropriate, caring touch can be helpful, too. But one of the best methods for filling another person’s emotional tank is through the timely, careful use of words. However, ill-timed and carelessly spoken words can diminish emotional supplies just as easily.
I remember having bosses who did both. One had a knack for encouraging me, especially at times when I had failed to meet his and my own expectations. He always had a way of assuring me, “You will do better next time.” Another boss, however, rarely had anything positive to say to me. “If you don’t hear from me, just assume everything is all right,” he once said. The problem was that I did hear from him whenever things if not “all right.”
Everyone’s need for emotional support and affirmation is different, but we all appreciate positive words from time to time as we confront the negatives of everyday. In the past we have discussed the power and impact of the tongue – pro and con – and it is useful to periodically revisit this aspect of workplace relationships. In particular, consider some insights given to us by the timeless “business manual,” the Bible:
Build up instead of tearing down.Under pressure, it is always easier to find fault than to give commendation. But the mark of good leaders is being able to develop and build up those that report to them, equipping them for ever greater challenges. To succeed at that, we need to learn to “catch people doing something right.” “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
Strive to encourage, not to dishearten.Years ago when I was being considered for a job with a non-profit organization, I was a relative novice. I lacked valuable experience, but the people assessing candidates viewed me as a “diamond in the rough,” someone with potential worth investing in. When I was hired, my superiors taught me and treated me from that perspective, and in time felt rewarded for their confidence. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21).
Respond with kindness rather than anger. Faced with deadlines, or normal workday difficulties, we can thoughtlessly speak in harsh, hurtful ways to others. But by exerting patience and compassion, we can turn a tense situation into a positive, teachable moment. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.