I was reading today in proverbs chapter 15:1 and it says “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (NLT) I have heard this my whole life that a soft or gentle answer turns away wrath but the last part is interesting as well ” harsh words make tempers flare”. As a Leader, do we take time to stop and think about how the words we use affect those we lead? As I read this verse this morning, I texted several groups and family and I posted and texted this
“I’ve alway heard that a soft or gentle answer turns away wrath(rage) and believe it to be true. If we maintain our composure and speak nicely to that store clerk (or who ever) ,who has already had a bad day, we might brighten their day instead of making it worse and avoid a bad experience ourselves.”
So my question is this, While leading how do we respond to those we lead? There are two things that I wanted to look at. The first is affirmation and the second is providing correction.
We have to be affirming of those we lead letting them know the value they provide to us, our group or organization. I have had leaders in my life that were not good at this. It was easy for them to talk to others about how good I was doing but it was difficult for them to tell me. I don’t know about you but I like to hear words of affirmation. Words of Affirmation are life giving and should not be undervalued. I have also worked in situations where the leaders in my life were very affirming. I flourish in an environment like this as opposed to others where words of encouragement are few and far between. I try my best as a leader to affirm those who work with me. I have come to realize that when I do this it not only allows me to speaks words of life but it also builds a relationships with those I lead. This is quite useful because before anyone will help or work under your leadership there must be a relationship first. Words of affirmation build rapport and allows you to speak in to the lives of those you lead.
Correction is a hard topic but in Proverbs 12:1 we are told ” To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.” When you have relationship with an individual allows you to speak words of encouragement and correction into their lives. I have had several different leaders who have spoken correction in my life. The first type only referenced what I had done wrong. This type of correction may work well for some, but it really never has worked well with me. Most of the time when a leader in my life attempted to tell me what I had done wrong, I already knew. They were simply scolding me and this was more counter productive than helpful. I would leave knowing that I needed to fix the problem but often felt hopeless because I wasn’t sure how to fix the problem. I imagine that I am not the only one to leave a meeting feeling this way. This type of correction often produces the opposite result than was intended. I believe the best way to bring correction is to define the problem, talk through it, then together find a solution. If one party doesn’t offer suggestions on fixing the problem, you have just managed to discourage those you lead.
The second type of correction leaves those being lead with fresh perspective and determination to fix whatever problem has been brought to their attention. I have also been led by this type of leader and hope that I provide this type of correction to those I lead. When addressing a problem with those you lead this is the best way to approach it. Once you schedule a meeting with them start off with praise for the things that they are doing correctly because it set a great environment for dealing with the issue that you are about to address. Most times it isn’t that you are so displeased with the individual you are providing correction to, but you see areas for growth. By the time the meeting is over, both parties are encouraged and more things are accomplished because you handled the situation in an appropriate manner.
I do realize that all those you lead are different and some require a more direct approach, but remember, a soft answer deflects not only anger but a host of other emotions … doubt, discouragement etc…. As Leaders what are some things you have seen leaders in your life do well?