Brand Yourself: How Your Words Affect Your Influence on Others

This is the second post in a series about personal brand. Check out the first post titled Brand Yourself: How Your Actions Affect Your Impact.

I can directly recall two instances from my years growing up where the words of others impacted me. One bad. One good. Both impactful.

The first was when I was about ten years old. I was at a good friend’s house and we had an intense game of Capture the Flag going. Another kid (we’ll call him Jason) about my age was on the opposite team. During a time-out (of which I was apparently uninformed), I tagged Jason while he was on our team’s turf. He informed me of the invalidity of my tag.

Subsequently, he said under his breath, “Idiot.” 

That hurt to my ten-year-old ears. I’ve never forgotten the sting that word had even though it was a result of a simple mistake.

The second instance was actually more recent. About a year ago, I met with a good friend at Panera to catch up and after bidding farewell, he slipped me a note. This isn’t an everyday occurrence so naturally, I opened it when I got in the car. A letter filled with encouraging words stared at me after I unfolded the piece of paper.

Some of the most impactful words were, “I truly respect you as the man of God you are.”

I open it and read it every so often because of the encouragement it is to me.

Both of these words or phrases branded these individuals in ways they don’t understand.

As much as I don’t want to admit it, I have this rather deep insecurity creep in whenever I see and talk to Jason (since then, he’s become a great guy). But a simple word he spoke in the heat of a situation made more impact than he could have guessed. Contrarily, the guy who wrote me the letter remains one of my best and strongest friends to this day. And I guarantee he put a lot of thought into what he said to me. Here’s the point I want to make:

Every single word you speak will affect your influence on others. 

You can tear people down or build them up. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

What words do you use? Are they good for building up or for tearing down? Consider gossip. If someone is gossiping to me about someone else, I no longer trust them. If they talk about others behind their backs, I’m likely next.

Do you use profanity regularly? I recently had an encounter with a young salesman at a furniture store. He was familiar with a nice list of four-letter-words, lost my trust based on lies he used, and subsequently gave me a bad taste of the store because of his lack of professionalism. I’ve told at least a half-dozen people that I’ll never go there again.

If you want to have influence on your peers and leave a legacy, the words you choose will directly affect who will listen to you. I know that is the case for me.

What kinds of words do you use and how do you see them affecting your impact? 

I want to hear from you in the comments!

-Caleb

Read the next post in this series titled Brand Yourself: Four Questions to Ask Before Your Next Social Media Post

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