Are You Sure You Want To Send That Email?

The words we use define who we are. Words reflect our identity, our ethics, beliefs and, behavior.

Words of encouragement can influence us to succeed beyond our expectations. They can move us to push through our self-imposed limits. Words can also destroy. Hurtful, demeaning words can lower our confidence and self-esteem. They can bring us to despair and hopelessness. Through words, we have the power to create and destroy not only our world but the world of others as well!

In our workplaces, words have descended to a new low resulting in uncivil behaviors such as harassment, gossip, and bullying.

Over time, people may forget the offensive words said during a heated conversation. When memories fade, the emotional pain diminishes as well. Not so with emails. Emails allow us to feel unrestrained and a little bolder when we feel the need to strike back. The recipient is elsewhere, and exists solely as a negative mental image, unable to immediately respond to the harsh words. The well-calculated words are designed to deliver a message that’s meant to shake the person up. And, no vengeful email would be complete unless it’s shared with a few, crucial recipients. Unlike the spoken word, the email serves as a permanent record that can be retrieved at any time and can come back to haunt the person months or years later. Vindictive and resentful words create terrible outcomes. Uncontrollable words end up controlling us.

Words that accuse and humiliate are meant to cause severe emotional harm. A toxic workplace is only possible when words are used to hurt others. Careless words exchanged when emotions are high can ruin even the most stable relationships.

When we use our speech in a demeaning, aggressive manner, we purposely reduce the value of the person we’re addressing. We might as well raise a banner that says: “Your feelings are not important to me!”

We can learn to guard our words, in the same manner, we choose to safeguard our jewelry and precious possessions. Our words can be used to bring out the best in us.