What You Tell Others Will Lift Them Up or Tear Them Down

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

Ask yourself are you speaking life or death?


Recently my former boss reached out to tell me how proud she was of me for following my dreams. She was pleased I continue in the education field. I was shocked when I received her message. I have not seen or heard from her in nine years. Our work relationship was not the best, but I am grateful for her giving me an opportunity.

With no experience in the field, just a BA in Forensic Psychology. My former boss took a chance. The way she recalls it just off of potential, she hired me. During the interview, she stated I remind her so much of herself. We shared stories and laughed. Our interaction on the job was completely different. She was stern. She wasn't the person to go to for guidance or help. I was self-taught to be resourceful and independent. These are qualities you need to thrive. However, there were numerous times when I thought my boss did not like me because she was very passive-aggressive. Her approach was sink or swim. There were days I completely sank, but that did not deter me from doing what I love. Her tone and attitude she embedded made it very easy for colleagues to feel a certain way about me. Their mentality was you are a college graduate; you can hand it. Studies show " when supervisors are supportive and active in a positive way; their employee tends to excel."


To my surprise, she reached out to explain her reasons for being hard on me. In her experience, the people she valued and looked up to never showed her any compassion or understanding. They made her feel incompetent. Growing up, she lacked support and resources. Everything she learned was self-taught. My boss couldn't see she turned into the people she eventually begin to despise. For years she believed a great leader must be firm and stern because this world will eat you up. Being a woman, you will not get the same opportunities as men because of inaccurate beliefs. You can not change another person's perspective. However your actions and work ethic can prove them wrong. My boss, for example, like so many tried so hard not to live up to stereotypes; they didn't see the damage they were instilling in others. She couldn't see that those people taught her something, not to be like them.


By allowing someone to struggle, will it make them better? I don't understand how any human being will agree with this thinking or mindset. As the person in charge who will benefit from their employee success, Why would you want to make it difficult and complicated? Does complicating a situation give you any gains or make things a great learning experience? Who benefits personally or professionally?


Looking back, I would say kudos to my former boss for making me go harder. I no longer allow myself to get comfortable at a job. The days of going with the flow are over. That experience made me become proactive and take charge. The tough love kind of worked in my favor. On the flip side, It didn't help me build a positive relationship with my colleague. I prefer to work independently. I am not a team player. I try to avoid working in a group and people. But, the big question is would it work for everyone? Tough love can go two ways, make people get their shit together and not rely on others. It will make them find their way to grow and thrive wherever life takes them. On the flip side, tough love can also make you rebel. You will come to a point where enough is enough; you can't take it anymore. It will make you want to quit or look for ways to get out. The energy that you are giving off might come off negative. The person you think you are helping will react negatively. Now the situation escalated. The message you are trying to convey gets disconnected.


Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of the words and impact we have on others. Words are powerful and can speak of life or death. Let's be mindful and build each other up.

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