The Power of Words: Learning to commend rather than complain

photo by trash_it
One of the keys that they focus on in my 30-day challenge is not just to eliminate negativity from what you say, but to replace it with more encouragement. That even seems to be more important--making sure that, viewing your words as currency, you use them to build up rather than tear down.

As I try to keep that two-part idea front of mind in my quest to forgo all negative speech (which has proven quite difficult and cause for many apologies and repentances), I also want to make strides at encouraging those around me with my words and use my speech for good, for edification.

A couple days ago was the first day that I realized that and how awkward making that bridge can be at times. For instance, our internet had been out for more than two weeks. We had called, waited patiently and still nothing. Finally, I got a phone call from an older man named Monroe. He told me he was on his way to look at the situation.

A couple hours later, Monroe called me back to let me know the progress. Then a couple hours later, he called me back again to let me know it was up and running and for me to double-check and make certain. He then made sure I held on to his phone number in case our service acted up in the coming weeks. Can you say customer service, or what?

Having worked in retail during high school, I know that it's much more common for customers to complain about service rather than commend it. That always rubbed me the wrong way, but sometimes it can feel awkward for me to ask someone, "Um, is there a way I can tell someone how good of a job you've done for me?" It sounds silly, but the idea of asking that can make me nervous--and usually wuss out.

But today, convicted with my new insights, I called Monroe and asked him. He said, "Oh I'm just doing my job; the only thing I could do is give you my supervisor's phone number." So I ended up calling the supervisor and telling him how pleased I was with Monroe's work and dedication. The supervisor then told me about how Monroe had gone above and beyond while fixing our service, because it wasn't supposed to be done until tomorrow but he wanted to see to it that we get fixed as soon as possible. He also told me that he holds on to all compliments like those to put in his employees' permanent files and that, years later, they can look back and see the kind things people said about them and the work they did.

And hearing all that, I was so glad that, for once, I took the extra couple of minutes, fumbled over the awkward words, and did the thing I knew was right.

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  1. Carmen- What a great post. I am also doing the "30-day encouragement" journey with...or "for" Tim. I have gotten a lot out of it, but sometimes it does feel "un-natural" ....? Like I am constantly saying, "Thank you for this...thank you for that...etc." While it's not insincere- I AM thankful, I don't want it to sound forced either. However, I think that can be a lie Satan tells us...that if we practice gratitude, it won't sound sincere.

    I am a firm believer in "what goes around, comes around. " Looks like you've got good things coming your way :) (((obviously, that's not why we do 'nice' get something in return, but I think you know what I mean.)))) :)

  2. Ah, I'm glad you're enjoying the 30-day challenge thing, too! It's definitely been getting the wheels turning for me of new ways to encourage/compliment Michael!

  3. that's such a great story! I remember when I was serving in restaurants, it was always the greatest thing in the world when someone asked for the manager because they wanted to compliment your service- which was rare. People are much quicker to complain and point out mistakes.

    This reminds me that I need to do that for other people more.

  4. Yeah, I think the hard part is taking the extra time to commend someone for doing something we feel is expected. We're supposed to do a good, thorough job, right? Isn't that what we're paying for? It can be hard to remember that when someone actually does live up to or surpass our expectations, it's good to encourage them to continue on. Perhaps that's why there's so much bad service everywhere!


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