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How can we improve the way we speak?
Positive Word Power, an amazing book on the topic of Speaking Positively is not just recommended reading. It is a truly essential work, which will help you learn how to speak in a more positive way and will give you practical guidelines for effective growth - both in the areas of personal development and in interpersonal relationships. If you do not have it yet, it is a good idea to buy it, study it and really apply its useful and true-to-life lessons.
The sefer is actually arranged in short and poignant daily lessons. Below is a sample of a Daily Lesson. Even for those who are already studying the book, the following can certainly be read, reread, and reread (and applied!).
“I just want you to know how much we enjoy having your son around,” Leah told her friend, Tova. Leah lived in Israel, where Tova’s son was learning in yeshivah. He spent many a Shabbos with Leah and her family, eager as he was to enjoy a family atmosphere and home cooking. Tova sometimes wondered if he wasn’t perhaps overusing his welcome.
“He’s so helpful and such a terrific addition to the table,” Leah enthused. Later on, when Tova spoke to her son, she was happy to relate her friend’s warm words. Her son was happy to hear that his presence was welcome. He felt valued and good that he was seen as someone with something to offer. Thereafter, each time he visited Leah's family for Shabbos, he aimed to enhance his reputation further. He made sure to bring an especially interesting Dvar Torah, he brought puzz1es and games for the family’s children, and cake from the bakery for the family to enjoy. He wanted to maintain his status as a "terrific addition," and he did.
Everyone is well aware of the negative impact of hearing unkind words passed along about oneself. People do not often consider, however, the ripple effects of good words being passed along. Everyone loves to hear that something nice was said about them. It enhances their self-esteem, and more importantly, it builds their desire to continue doing the good thing for which they were praised. The child who was told, "Your teacher says you always have interesting ideas to add to the class discussion," will look forward to the next opportunity to raise his/her hand in class. The husband who is told, "Your wife always quotes your opinion," will feel honored and admired by his wife, thereby encouraging him to continue earning her respect. The wife who hears, "You husband says he couldn't manage anything without you," will be happy to dig in and provide the support her husband counts on.
People long to feel acknowledged and appreciated. Praising someone to his face is one way to convey this recognition, yet there is always the lingering thought that perhaps the praise is meant "just to be nice." When a person hears that he was praised to another, the praise rings that much truer, for there can be no ulterior motive. Aaron HaKohen employed this method to foster peace and friendship among the Jewish people. He would tell each person how much the other person valued him, thereby building friendship and warmth. Often, we hear good things about someone, but fail to pass it on. It just takes a little awareness to tuck that compliment away and bring it out when it counts. Doing so takes the positive power of the comment itself and amplifies it a thousand times over, giving someone the encouragement to keep on doing what they do well, and the blessing of knowing they are appreciated.
Remember, when you hear a compliment or a positive statement about someone, you should try to pass it on to the subject of the comment.
Reproduced from Positive Word Power by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation with permission from the copyright holders at Artscroll/Mesorah Publications, LTD.