Be Careful With Your Words

April 13, 2021

We often hear that we should be careful with our words but we don’t take it seriously until we finally experience the effects of negligent statements.

Words are powerful, that’s undeniable. As such, the familiar adage “the pen is mightier than the sword” holds universal truth and is regarded as timeless.

Words are powerful

Be Careful With Your Words


    We’ve been told by our parents to be careful with what we say because our words can hurt people, even with us not meaning it. At school, at work, and in our day-to-day dealings with our acquaintances, we learned that we should exercise caution when it comes to our statements.

    Furthermore, in this age of the internet and social media, words can spread like wildfire that’s why we need to be even more prudent with what we say, share, or post. As a blogger, it’s my responsibility to tell only the truth, avoid misleading statements, and make appropriate disclosures and disclaimers in my posts. I also don’t share posts unless it’s from a trusted or verified source.

    I’ve observed that a lot of people take freedom of speech for granted without knowing that it has great repercussions.

    An innocent statement cost me so much


    Why am I writing this post?

    That’s because I’ve experienced being negatively affected by someone’s words first-hand and it wasn’t even intentional. However, the effect was lasting because that seemingly innocent statement cost me my rating, which meant that it’s a year’s worth of hard work and sleepless nights down the drain.

    Here goes that story:

    When I was still with another company working in Marketing Communications, I used to handle an annual publication; it was a big project in terms of budget and the scale of tasks. It was my yearly responsibility until I finally (and thankfully!) transferred to another department.

    During the third year that I handled it, our purchasing team recommended a different printer. Naturally, we were anxious because the previous supplier was already familiar when it came to the company’s brand guidelines. In short, they are well-versed when it came to the institution’s brand colors, a carefully guarded element that it would be considered a mortal sin if anyone violated it.

    People from Marketing would understand the fuss when it came to brand elements because a single mistake could make a difference, especially to a keen eye.

    Anyway, because of the change in the printer supplier, our designer good-naturedly offered their printing supervision services. We declined because, aside from the fact that we didn’t have any budget for it, we were confident that we can always make adjustments to the colors before we gave it a final go.

    Anyway, as we had expected, when the proofs (aka sample printouts) of the publication arrived, the colors were too dark. Moreover, the photos of the people looked like they were drunk because they were too red-skinned.

    We made a note of all of those things and, after about two or three more proofs, we were able to finally make the correct adjustments. The printer informed us that the finished product will darken slightly because of the lamination. We said it was fine because we already took that into consideration with the color adjustments that we did.

    The turning point


    The publication was finally printed and delivered. However, to our dismay, the pages were still a tad darker than expected but that’s just our trained eyes being overly critical. To ordinary eyes though, it looked perfectly fine so we proceeded to distribute it to our senior officers.

    It was fine for a few days, we even received a few compliments here and there. The shock of our lives came a few days later when my supervisor received a call from Mr. Big Boss (the head of the company). 

    He was initially impressed with the layout until he asked the design agency’s opinion about it, who matter-of-factly and honestly told him that the photos turned out to be too dark. That wouldn’t have happened had we hired their printing supervision services.

    Naturally, Mr. Big Boss was incensed. He told my supervisor that the publication was ugly and that we should’ve gotten the agency’s offer for the printing services.

    But above anything else, I was worried because I knew my supervisor would always count my mistakes and never my accomplishments. Since this was my project, the blame will surely be on me.

    I understood that the agency was trying to get new business but I prayed that it shouldn't be at the expense of another person, and worse because that person was me.

    Judgment time


    Fast forward to our rating season around a year later. We were reviewing the things that I wasn’t able to achieve and the mistakes that I committed. As I had expected, my big publication was the highlight of my performance rating.

    Since Mr. Big Boss was dissatisfied with the final product, that meant that I would (and should) get a “needs improvement” rating. Plus, it was printed and delivered late, my supervisor pointed out.

    I reasoned out that Mr. Big Boss’s disappointment was influenced or fuelled by a comment. If that didn’t happen, our project was fine. As to the delay in the delivery of the project, it was Mr. Big Boss who signed it late even if he knew that it was urgent, just like in the previous year.

    In the end, all my reasons still fell on deaf ears. I got a rating that was close to a failing mark. I was ineligible for a raise and to receive profit sharing.

    You might argue that it was just a rating, a number, a grade. But it meant so much to me because I was really expecting that sum of money because I will give it to my mother for her chemotherapy treatment.

    With the performance bonus and the profit-sharing, I could’ve already paid for two chemotherapy sessions. But I was robbed of that opportunity, all because of a person who innocently answered a question and gave an opinion.

    Key takeaways


    While I thought I lost the chance to give money at home, I was able to secure a salary loan at three times my salary. Thank goodness, my previous company was really kind to their employees (they still are!).

    Going back to the topic, here are my crucial takeaways from this story:

    • What we say may sound innocent or harmless to us but it can have a lasting impact on others.
    • Words have the ability to spread beyond our intended recipients, so be mindful of what you say.
    • Always be purposeful with your statements because they have the potential to change the world.
    • Kind words can change or even save lives.
     
    I do hope that you would also keep these lessons in mind whenever you speak or write because a single word can spell the difference between life and death.

    Epilogue


    We live in an imperfect world. We are free to say whatever it is that we want to say. However, it won’t hurt to exercise prudence with what we say. Words can make or break a person. They can change lives, they can start a war, or be the catalyst of peace.

    We must choose our words carefully when speaking to our children, our peers, and even with the random people that we meet outside.

    We must think twice about the things that we are publishing on social media, even the information that we share. Again, the advantages are great and lasting when we are careful with our words.

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    Be careful with your words

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    1 comment

    1. Thank you for sharing po. True po nasa democratic country tayo malaya tayo sahibin kung ano yung gusto natin sabihin pero dapat maingat pa din tayo sa mga salita binibitawan natin

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