By Steve Moran
Each and every conversation you have builds people up or tears them down.
It’s a sobering thought.
I am not talking about those casual encounters at the post office or market or that snippy conversation you had in that scamming telemarketing call you accidentally answered on your cellphone. Except, maybe even in those circumstances it is true.
It Kind of Embarrasses Me …
I feel like I get more than my fair share of scammy telemarketing calls on my cellphone. About half the time I simply hang up. But sometimes I get so annoyed that I will take the time to get a person on the phone and, depending on my mood at the moment, I will:
- See how much of their time I can waste, which of course is the ultimate act of stupidity since it also wastes my time.
- Tell them I am with the FBI and that we are tracing their call.
- Tell them that God gave me a vision that they are going to hell for stealing from people. I admit God didn’t actually say this to me, but it has to be true if there is any justice in the world, right?
- Ask them if their mom knows what they do for a living.
I confess these responses are petty and designed to tear down, to destroy not to create.
In some sense, it can feel like a heavy burden to know that every single conversation we have with those we cross paths with can destroy or create. It is even easy to shrug it off and believe that people are too sensitive (which may be true).
It is reality. If you make your team members, those above you, below you, or parallel with you, feel good about having a conversation with you, you will have an easier time leading, you will have more friends, and you will have more peace in your life.
There are two significant challenges.
- Sometimes you think you are being kind or careful (and maybe you are), but they perceive it very differently. This requires using discernment when having conversations. Easier to do in person, less easy on Zoom calls, and much harder when on the phone. And, of course, some people are more touchy than others.
- When you have hard truths, it becomes much harder to pull this off. In the worst scenario, you are firing someone or writing them up. But, remember that doing both of those things are opportunities to help them grow. And spending time talking through the possibilities of a new position or fixing something in their existing position creates the opportunity to profoundly change their life for the better.
Sometimes I Simply Don’t Care
I confess with my head hanging that sometimes I simply don’t care that I am tearing someone down. I have decided that whatever a person has done or not done has made them so unworthy that the more hurt I can inflict the happier I am.
This is modeled for us every day. The news media is focused on telling stories that make someone look bad, resulting in outrage. Politicians are more interested in finding ways to make the other side look bad than they are in finding solutions.
It makes it so much easier for us to fall into this trap. But it makes us less effective as leaders, it makes us less effective as family members, and it makes us less human.
A final thought question for you: Name some people in your life that you love hanging out with because they make you feel good.
P.S. Not gonna ask you to name those who make you feel bad. 🙃