The Power Of Words

“Blessed is he who has learned to admire but not envy, to follow but not imitate, to praise but not flatter, and to lead but not manipulate.” ~ William Arthur Ward

Sometimes a word of praise is the only encouragement that is needed. Very rarely do we know the enormity of the struggles people face in their private lives and while we cannot fight their battles for them, we can help them along on their difficult path with some encouraging words. There is incredible value in encouraging people and our words have the potential to brighten up someone’s day. Compliments have the power to do that. Even just the act of noticing is a compliment that you care enough to notice things.

We all yearn for a thank you, you’ve done well or that was awesome. We have a desire to be thought of well and a compliment is likely to give that warm fuzzy feeling and even more so when it comes from those whose authority we respect. Self-doubt can be a downward spiral and people suffering from it can get huge benefits from a simple compliment. Whether at work or at home, compliments can go a long way in making one’s day, they can change attitudes and improve performance more than even money can. 

So, why is it easy for some and challenging for others to give compliments? Is it that some people don’t feel they need to, because they don’t feel the need to receive a compliment? Or is it that they feel insecure and have low self-esteem, so they have trouble giving or receiving anything? Is it that some people just don’t see the good in anything and all they see and focus on is on the negative?

Psychologists say that when people are unable to give out compliments, it’s usually because of any of the following reasons: 

  • Insecurity – You don’t want to give someone an ‘edge’ over you. 
  • Jealousy/envy – It makes you unable to pay a compliment. 
  • Depression – When you just can’t see the good in things. 
  • Self-absorption – You are not able to recognize the positive in others. 

When you feel appreciated by a person you want to do more for that person. Interestingly, giving compliments develops our confidence as we feel good about helping other people to feel good. If you want to develop your self-esteem, the fastest way to do it is to help improve someone else’s.

Even as an experiment, this is surely worth a try, because of the ample benefits, mainly:

  • It benefits others – Compliments encourage others. Through kind words, we remind people of their value and their talents. All of us want to be noticed, and receiving compliments confirms that we are. They provide confidence, joy and hope.
  • It benefits me When we share happiness, we receive it.
  • It benefits my environment – The people around us create the environments in which we live, work, and play. Spreading joy among them by fostering a culture of encouragement challenges others to do the same. Our work environment feels different, as does our home life, and the world around begins to change just a little bit.

We can never underestimate the power of positive words to change our outlook in life. Just a “Don’t lose hope, I believe you can do it,” has the power to keep us going when we are in the midst of a trial. Encouraging words can do wonders to make us work harder instead of thinking about surrender. 

Let me share a personal incident that encouraged me hugely and gave me so much confidence. I was waist down paralyzed, laid up in bed for 2 ½ years. I was in touch with my colleagues and we exchanged emails pertaining to my wellbeing. I was pleasantly surprised when my former director sent me a mail asking if I could draft a contract. I made the contract for her and her response was “Bravo, your brain is as sharp as ever”. I was also paid for work. I could not stop smiling for days and this encouraged me further, and I went on to write my first book. Her ‘Bravo’ remains etched in my mind even after 15 years. When I couldn’t even stand on my own, the encouragement was all that was needed to boost my confidence that I could still do so much. So, ask yourself this simple question – Do you bring sunshine or gloom when you enter a room? These beautiful words by Maya Angelou hold true in every situation of life and every profession – “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Shilpa Bhasin Mehra
Shilpa Bhasin Mehra

A lawyer by profession and writer by passion/default, she lives and laughs king-size. Often overruled, she loves to pen down her thoughts. Author of the book, “All Battles Aren’t Legal”, she is a regular contributor to ‘Khaleej Times’ and ‘Lawyers Update’. Mommy to two boys, she swears by wine and music to keep her ahead of the game.  Shilpa lives in Dubai.  

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31 thoughts on “The Power Of Words”

  1. Very pertinent topic, yet simply put. True, words have the power to make or break, so one must choose them with care. Especially in these trying times, words can help and heal a lot since our actions are restricted. Thanks for shedding light on this overlooked trait in most of us.

    1. Very well put. Enjoyed the read Shilpa. So necessary to compliment and how it boosts one. Could relate so much to how it helped you when you were unwell. It’s helped me and given me a lot of courage too. Specially if the compliment comes from the heart and not just false praise.

  2. It’s only words,like the song goes, but they are the greatest weapon you can weild or blessing one can bestow on another.

  3. couldn’t agree more. they say helping others is actually a selfish motive. Makes you feel good about yourself as you’re doing good for someone else.

  4. Complimenting or thanking someone is such a simple thing, yet we hesitate to do it often. What holds us back. Insecurity. I would never have labeled it as such – but hearing you say it makes me realize how true that is.

    Really enjoyed your article.

  5. Well written Shilpa, loved the article……words have power and almost always shape our lives and of those around us…..A simple choice of words can make a difference, so are we choosing the right words……words are power !!

  6. So well written shil and such a powerful subject! Words indeed can make or break! It’s all in the attitude

  7. Shilpa your article is a beautiful reminder. How just a line is etched in your memory after 15 years , how each one of us can make a difference in someone’s life.
    We all need that compliment, that push, that hope.
    Why not start by giving, surely it will come back.

  8. Your article reminded me of the quote I wrote long ago, “There is ‘world’ in your ‘word’ Choose wisely.” How well you have captured the emotion of appreciation that truly has the power to change our world view. For the Director, it was an honest appreciation of your work but the indelible imprint it left on you paved the way for a roadmap that you then confidently traversed upon with renewed gusto and confidence.
    Thank you for this brilliant reminder especially in these fragile times. Let us use our words to uplift another’s spirit and lighten someone’s load. Thank you Shilpa.

    1. Thanks very much Sonia. Such a lovely appreciation of the article. I so echo your sentiments.

  9. Dearest Shilpa,
    You are so right …Words have the power to motivate and demoralise … Your story is so inspiring. My take away is to put a reminder for myself to compliment and show gratitude daily for all the little things that people and the universe do for me daily. Thank you, thank you, thank you. More power to you.

    1. Thanks very much Natasha. You practise gratitude daily and teach us all too. So thank you very much. So glad you enjoyed the article.

  10. I love this piece. It does not hurt us in any way to be kind to someone or to recognise something that someone does well. As they say “Be the reason someone smiles today.” How simple it is for our spirits to be lifted and for us to lift someone else’s! Appreciation is always valued.

    1. You have summed up the essence of the article so well Shikha. Thanks very much for the appreciation.

  11. I love the simplicity of the thought and the magnitude of the action. You have penned it so well. Your words stem from the inner goodness, Shilpa.

  12. We all need a refresher once in a while to keep us on the track! You have just summed it up so well with your personal experience.Thanks

  13. Very well written, enjoyed reading the story. The right word at the right moment can mean so much, costs one nothing but can make a difference to someone. Appreciation to all those who make our lives a lot better. Beautifully penned.

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