A friend of mine sent me a link to a YouTube video that was heartwarming and poignant. The message is familiar – it’s not what you say, but how you say it. The company that produced the video specializes in writing copy for marketing strategies. Although this video is an advertisement for their work, I felt that point went beyond advertising – if I change my words, I can change my interactions.

In the video, the woman who re-wrote the sign not only stated the man’s challenge, she also took the time to acknowledge this man. So it’s not only how we state something, but also acknowledging another person’s presence.

I’m in a check-out line; the cashier performs a service for me. I can ignore the cashier, grunt “thank you,” or smile and say, “Thank you for your help.” Then the cashier smiles back and also smiles at the next person.

What about the waiter/waitress at a restaurant. Sure, they’re performing a service for which they are paid. Yes, their job requires them to take my order and bring me the food. What happens when they bring the order to me? Again, some options: I can ignore them, grunt some response, or look at them, smile, and say, “Thank you. This looks great!”

I know what you could be thinking. “These are strangers. It’s often easier to be kind to strangers than family members.” True. So this is area is an opportunity for growth. Here are a couple of my common situations:

  • We can say “goodbye” to a family member in the morning in a monotone. Or, we can smile and say “goodbye.” What a difference a smile will make in that person’s day.
  • We can be in a rush when a family member calls who needs to chat and say, “Can’t talk right now. Gotta go.” Or, we can be still be in a rush and respond (with a smile, even though they can’t see it), “I’m so glad you called. I would love to chat with you; however, I must leave for my appointment. May I call you at 8:00pm?” Same message; much more pleasant.

It’s not what you say, but how you say it. How do you say something pleasantly, or in a helpful manner? Please share some thoughts so we can all grow the write way!