Chamber View: Words matter in business, in life

Published on: June 29, 2017

Tanya Doran


Executive Director, Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

This phrase was recited by little Thumper in the 1942 animated Disney film Bambi, and obviously it was something challenging for the little rabbit to remember.

Words are powerful. They can make us feel joy and happiness. They can also be hurtful and bring sadness.

This past week, I stopped by one of our local businesses and had the pleasure to connect with the owner. I could tell he was having a difficult day, because he wasn’t his normal, happy self. His mother had passed away the previous day.

As a driven, small business owner, he had come into the office to get a few things done before meeting with the local funeral home, and while I was there, he received a call from a potential client who wanted a same-day appointment. When the owner said he wasn’t available that day, the caller became upset.

The owner apologized for the inconvenience and provided the caller with the contact for another local competitor who he trusted would take good care of her.

At no time, did he explain why he couldn’t meet with her. And while he did his best to help, the potential client wasn’t appreciative and the last words she said before hanging up were, “Thanks for nothing.”

You can imagine how he felt.

When we speak, we’re given the choice between a bitter path and the better path. My recommendation is to always take the latter.

I know this can be challenging, especially when we’re upset. But it’s important to remember that once we make a mean or angry statement (take that bitter path), whether our words are posted on social media or verbally stated, we can’t take them back.

All of us regret something we say from time to time. My hope is we learn from those mistakes. If so, then we will take a moment to think before we say or post something.

Always ask yourself, “Am I being hurtful or harsh?” If the answer is “Yes,” then soften your tone or make a change to add some kindness.

A simple act of kindness can make a difference each and every day. If you notice someone doing something nice, no matter how small, take the time to tell that person and thank them.

This week, challenge yourself to purposefully do an act of kindness. Ask someone, “How are you?” and take the time to truly listen to their response. Don’t just walk by a piece of trash; stop to pick it up and throw it away properly. Open and hold the door, especially for a person with their hands full, someone elderly or a mom or dad with small children.

Tell someone who inspires you how inspirational they are. Thank a teacher, fireman, police officer, veteran, neighbor, friend or family member. Intentionally say hello or introduce yourself to your neighbor. Take a break with a co-worker or acquaintance you don’t know well to learn more about them. Buy someone’s beverage or meal. Give a little extra tip to your server.

Ellen DeGeneres always says at the end of her talk show, “Be kind to one another.” I agree. After all, words do matter.