Earlier this week I shared a book review of Seth Godin’s Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us as well as another post inspired by the book about leading from the bottom. Today’s post has its genesis in one sentence found in the book where Godin lists his principles related to creating a movement. His final principle is “Tearing others down is never as helpful to a movement as building your followers up” (p. 105).
That may seem obvious, but I’m sure it’s included because people often violate the principle. How can we expect others to join us in accomplishing some task, making a change, joining a cause to make a difference, or simply doing our day-to-day work if we’re criticizing or complaining along the way? Don’t we respond better in attitude and in performance when others are quick to praise and encourage rather than to tear us down? Of course we do!
This principle reminds me of a few other maxims that are (or should be) a part of our language. One is “You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.” This one is literally true when it comes to attracting me as well. I love honey and consume some almost daily. Vinegar? I run from the stuff; can’t stand to smell it or be in the same room with it. Building others up is honey. Tearing them down is vinegar. Be honey.
Perhaps one of my favorite sayings related to this thought comes from a bumper sticker I saw last year: “Wag more, bark less.” A Google search on the phrase will yield many results, including more paraphernalia with the saying on it than you can afford to purchase. As a dog lover and one who believes in being encouraging to others, this one sums up the notion quite well for me.
Take a moment to review in your mind the conversations you’ve had in the past 24 hours. In those talks, were you figuratively more often wagging your tail or barking at the listener? Were you building up or tearing down? You may not have noticed at the time, but chances are good that the other person did. As you think back on the conversations you had with coworkers this past week, with people you manage, with those living under your roof, or with others you spoke with along the way, did you do more wagging or barking?
If I approach a dog, I’m going to notice if he’s wagging or barking and it’s going to impact how I respond. Same is true for people.
As you go about your conversations today, make it a point to wag more and bark less. It will do as much good for you as it does for those around you.