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  • Writer's picturesteve richardson


Do you remember the first time your self-esteem was boosted by someone’s kind words? I do.

I was eight year’s old. It was a hot summer’s day at school and my classmates and me, were in the school playing field playing cricket.

The bowler for both teams was our much-loved Headmaster, Mr Law. He was a bald-headed gentle giant of a man with an infectious belly laugh and a propensity to shed a tear when something moved his sensitive soul – which was often.

I was fielding. Mr Law bowled and it bounced beautifully for the batsman (probably on purpose) who met the ball with a ’THWAK’ in the meat of the bat. The ball soared in my direction and after short sprint, I dived and caught the ball, double-handed.

“Well done, Ricardo! What a catch” Mr Law bellowed. He jogged across to me, his face beaming a radiant smile and upon reaching me, ruffled my hair.

“Well done son, very well done!”

In that moment, my shy, awkward self, felt beautifully uplifted and relevant: even important. It is a memory that I treasure because as an adult, I understand that kind words are more than just empowering. What we say to others has the power to heal, comfort, inspire, guide, enhance, and fashion different choices.

So, in the hope that the spirit of my beloved Headmaster might reach you from days gone by, may I offer three things for you to consider in your interaction with others.

· In emotion-filled situations, be the one to make matters better by softening the language through the use words that seek reconciliation and compromise.

· Be the one to build up another in words or deeds. If you are an authority figure (parent, teacher, manager, coach) be sensitive to the power you have to build the self-esteem and confidence of those who respect you.

· With those with whom you associate daily and who you might consider friends, partners, or family; why not express your gratitude to them for the positive things they bring into your life. I think you might be surprised at their response.

Finally, perhaps the last word, about the words we use, should go to Benjamin Franklin:

“Speak ill of no man but speak all the good you know of everybody.”

I think Mr Franklin and my old Headmaster would have been firm friends.

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