“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Tell that to Paula Deen. Three decades later her words have come back to haunt her – and in one fell swoop, words have decimated her character, crashed her empire, and labeled her a racist.
Words can definitely hurt you – and sometimes your OWN words can decapitate your leadership. So….
1) Think before you speak. Your careless, off-handed, or ‘intended-to-be-funny’ words can crumple the spirit of a student, parent, or volunteer.
2) Apologize sincerely…with tears and on an early morning talk show (humbly & publicly), if necessary.
3) Don’t expect that apology to erase the words you said….it’ll never happen. The best you can hope for is that it might redeem your credibility in some small part AND allow you to rest in knowing you did the right thing after you did the wrong thing.
I’ve spoken some careless words in my day. I’ve said some things I shouldn’t have. I’ve offended people. I’ve probably done that in the last 20 minutes. So have you. Ask for forgiveness. Lead by loving people – and keeping your mouth shut.