“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me!” What utter rubbish. We all know the power of words to hurt- from the taunts about our size or facial features to hateful racist chants. Words matter. And in my job, I have the chance every day to dispense some kind words. In fact, I do it, like most people, without noticing it…until someone mentions it.
And so the other day I was on Delivery Suite where I saw a midwife who I think is amazing both in attitude and professionalism. And I told her, in front of the Midwife-In-Charge how fantastic I thought she was. So I was so please to get a Tweet in the evening from the person I had complimented which said: “All it takes are a few kind words. Thank you @revdavesouthall You made my day so much better!” And guess what, that made me feel better too.
And a few days after spending some time with a family whose loved one was dying I received a lovely thank you card. “Dear David, your prayers, support and compassion for our Dad deserve a ‘Thank You’. We felt that the comfort and peace you gave us will have been felt by him, as us, in a tangible way. Also your kind words were appreciated.”
Kindness is a much under-estimated virtue. It can change people’s emotions. And any of us who deal with people, in whatever sphere of work, would do well to reflect on this. Kindness isn’t trendy or showy or loud. But kindness can have an impact far beyond its short utterance. Words matter because, as the song says: “Words are all we have.” And kind words matter a lot.
Of course we shouldn’t just speak kind words to get some praise back. But we should say them because they are true – and then let them work their way and do their good in the mystery of the cosmos. As Mother Teresa reminds us: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”