With the holidays upon us, I just want to again encourage everyone to slow down and enjoy!
With less than 10 days to go, I know that your Christmas to-do list is overflowing with the presents you have yet to buy and the outrageous number of parties you ought to attend. The LAST thing on your mind is trying to come up with a way to be kind to the office Grinch or neighborhood Scrooge. However,
Did you ever consider that the holidays are the easiest time to practice “ frog kissing”?
(By the way, if you don’t know what “frog kissing” is, I recommend you add my book, Sticks and Stones Exposed to your wish list.) A frog kisser is someone who intentionally chooses, through their words and actions, to support, encourage, and affirm those with whom they come in contact. I find the holidays to be one of the best times to develop your “frog kissing” skills for two reasons:
- The holidays occasionally bring out the frog in all of us. Between crowded malls, buzzing airports and hectic family get togethers, it’s enough to make the sanest among us want to shout “Bah, humbug!” In spite of all the seasonal cheer, most people are busy, stressed and tired. Now, more than any other time of the year, people need words of kindness, encouragement and positivity. View this as an opportunity, not an inconvenience, as you put a new habit into practice.
- The holidays also give us plenty of “kissable moments”—I’m not talking about anything that happens under the mistletoe, but rather about the parties, end-of-year reviews, and jam-packed social calendars that are perfect opportunities for you to be a “frog kisser.” Thank a grumpy co-worker for his assistance on a project at the office party. Compliment the festive decorations in a stressed-out teacher’s classroom. Take a moment to wish a TSA officer, grocery bagger, or restaurant server, “Happy Holidays.”
If your own heart is feeling two sizes too small this time of year, I’d challenge you to try “frog kissing” someone else. Aside from brightening their day, it continues to create a new habit in you—one of building others up, fostering teamwork and opening up channels of honest, productive communication. Who doesn’t want to work with, live with, promote, or hire someone with those qualities?
Put “frog kissing” into practice this month and you may have the people closest to you wondering if your attitude isn’t the result of a Christmas miracle!
How will you be “frog kissing” during the holidays?
How would your tweets change if you thought 140 characters had the power to alter your future?
A few weeks ago, I read the most fascinating article in the New York Times. With the explosion of social networking, more college admissions view applicants’ Facebook pages and Twitter feeds as a part—officially or unofficially–of their review, which is causing some students to lose the opportunity of attending the college of their dreams. While this may be new to the world of college admissions, businesses have been screening job applicants’ social media usage for years. I’ve been amazed at the capacity for decent, polite, and respectful people to log on to the Internet and spew negative, hateful, and just plain mean speech. I shudder to think what my 18-year-old self might have said if I had that kind of social platform in my formative years.
Social media is a great way to stay abreast of current events, keep in touch, and find links to thought-provoking articles and blogs (cough, cough). But even 140 characters can be wielded to tear down someone else’s reputation, and as this article observes, unintentionally damage your own image.
In my book Sticks and Stones Exposed, I talk a lot about the power of positive uplifting words. After reading the Times piece, I wonder what would have happened if the admissions officers had seen positive words on the applicant’s social media feed—encouragement to a fellow student, excitement for a campus visit, gratitude to a coach or a teacher. Likewise, if a hiring manager searched for an applicant’s blog and discovered insightful business posts or Facebook shout-outs thanking colleagues for their contributions to a big project. You see, in addition to inspiring others around us, positive words reveal what we can contribute to a group—be it a professional organization or a college campus. Positive words are the hallmark of the inquisitive mind, the team player, and the great collaborator. Which are exactly the kind of students universities want to accept, and later, the kind of professionals companies are clamoring to hire.
You may not be a “leader” in you business, school, or community, but you can be a leader to others in the way you conduct yourself online. Instead of tearing people down, laugh at yourself. Rather than complaining, share something that you’re thankful for. Your influence and attitude online has the ability to move you closer to achieving your goals or abandoning them—140 characters at a time.
Commentary on NYT Article “They Loved Your GPA then they Saw Your Tweets” and the power of words.
I was visiting a friend in the hospital. I would love to tell you I was there because that’s just the kind of guy I am: one who visits others in the hospital, but that would be a lie. Truth be told, I had been having quite a pity party for myself. I had just lost my largest customer to a competitor, my retirement investments had taken a major hit in the market, I was worried about having to let some employees go in a bad economy, my car had logged 200,000 miles and was making funny noises, my son was developing a real attitude (and growing a Mohawk) – you get the idea.
While griping about all of this at a family gathering, my ever-wise mother-in-law looked me square in the eye and said, “David, sounds like you need to get your eyes off yourself.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Whenever I feel down, I just go and find somebody who is worse off than me, and I help them in some way,” she said. “You know what happens? My problems seem to shrink and I become very grateful for my blessings.”
Her words became the motivation to go to the hospital to visit a friend who was recovering from an illness. While I was there, a nurse came into the room and asked me to step out for a few minutes so she could take care of some tasks. I didn’t even want to know what that might entail – bedpans, bandages, and blood are all things I will gladly avoid.
So I began to roam the halls of the hospital. I wandered past the over-priced gift shop and meandered by the cafeteria. Eventually, I stumbled upon the interfaith chapel.
I pushed open the door, adorned with stained glass, and peeked inside. It was empty, so I stepped in. There was soft music playing, several rows of chairs, an altar with a kneeling pad, and a cross on the front wall with a table below it. On the table was a basket full of little cards upon which people had written their prayers.
Like a moth to light, I was drawn to the cards in the basket. I felt a little guilty as I picked one up, but I began to read it anyway: “If there is any way you can heal my baby, please, I beg you, do it.”
I picked up another: “Please take this away from my wife and give it to me.”
Card after card I read, my heart aching for people I would never know. Tears began to stream down my face as I continued to read. And then I came across a card I will never forget. Scrawled with a blue crayon were these words:
“Dear God, Please let Mommy live until Christmas. Love, Jenny”
My mother-in-law was right. Suddenly, I didn’t have any problems. I thought I had gone to the hospital to “help” someone else who was worse off than me, you know, to “give” of myself. And while my friend was touched that I had come to wish him well, I was the one who came away from the visit full. I received way more than I gave. That’s the secret that all givers know…in giving, you get.
“Sticks and stones may break your bones,
But words will never hurt you.”
I still remember very clearly the first time I heard those words. I had come running in from the bus stop where the bigger kids had been teasing me and calling me names. With tears streaming down my face, my dad had stooped down, pulled me into his arms, and shared that little poem with me.
But he was wrong.
Those words did hurt.
“Sticks and stones” is a mantra handed down from generation to generation, helping children deal with the sting of the big, cruel world and the nasty people they’ll inevitably encounter in it. Our hearts are in the right place in trying to help kids rationalize their hurt feelings, but the logic isn’t.
Words do hurt.
In fact, according to some research; emotional pain is processed in the same part of the brain as physical pain. And that emotional pain can result in something much worse than a broken bone.
You see, broken bones mend themselves, sometimes growing stronger than they were before the break, but harmful words can result in lifelong injury. They break our hearts, scratch our spirits, and dent our self-esteem, all of which is damage that may never fully heal.
Clearly, words matter.
And what matters most is how we use them. Do we use them like sticks and stones, to tear down, to destruct, and destroy? Or, do we use them to build up, encourage, and affirm?
Remember, what you say could make all the difference.