Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
According to a poll reported by Tom Rath and Dr. Donald Clifton in How Full Is Your Bucket?, 65 percent of American employees don't receive any positive recognition for their work in any given year. The author's also refer to the U.S. Department of Labor which says the number-one reason people quit their jobs is because of lack of appreciation.
The Bible says that pleasant words -- words of praise and encouragement -- boost us in body and soul. Why is it, then, that compliments so easily get stuck in our throats?
"I don't want it to go to his head," we say -- as if our praise will lead others into a downward spiral of moral degeneration.
Have you heard of the Losada Line? Dr. Marcial Losada found that there is a correlation between a company's success and the positive-to-negative comments made within the workplace. The dividing line between above and below-average performance is a positive to negative ratio of 2.9. In other words, for a company to be successful, workers need to be making more than three positive comments to every criticism they make of another worker.
Can you take the notion of speaking pleasant words too far? Absolutely -- although few of us are in any danger of doing so. The research also discovered there is an upper limit to the positive things we say. If the ratio of positive-to-negative comments exceeds eleven to one, our positive words are perceived as insincere, and become ineffective.
When we frequently criticize others, we usually feel that we're helping them to improve their behavior. The irony is that we don't respond to critical people. We view negative people as crabby rather than as someone with their welfare in mind.
We do, ironically, respond to criticism from those whose words are predominantly positive.
Imagine how you would feel if someone paid you a sincere compliment. Once you've been encouraged by their pleasant words, then the beauty of Jesus' golden rule comes into play: seek to encourage others as the words of others have encouraged you.
Barbara Tuchman recounts the story of a corporal in Israel's armored-corps. After three days of combat he was emotionally shattered. The destruction and carnage left him apathetic -- he no longer cared whether he lived or died.
Schools had organized a program where each student sent a letter and a small gift to a soldier. When the discouraged corporal saw the letter dropped on his bunk, he thought, "Some silly crap." Nevertheless, he opened the letter.
"Dear Soldier," the letter read, "I am sending you this chewing gum. I am not afraid of bombs because I know you are out there protecting me and will not let anyone kill me."
The corporal immediately jumped to his feet. "I felt," the soldier said, "like a lion."
(text copyright 2012 by Marty Kaarre)