A kind word goes a long way…

There’s an expression that says: A kind word goes a long way…
First to understand, take a look at the picture below:

In the picture you see my first mentor ( as a reminder Mentors do not get paid for their advice) and the fellow called Gordie is my mother’s Coach. In this example Gordie is really MY Coach since what he told me shocked me! Remember that Coaches shock and motivate you.

Without going into too much detail I had not seen my Mentor (read my mom) for quite some time. She is not doing too well health wise and her strokes made her condition more and more debilitating. A visit to Canada was long overdue.

Gordie is my mother’s nurse and caretaker and this is what he told me:

“Sir (not sure why he called me “Sir”) … I gotta tell you: Since you came to visit your mother she is a completely different person. She is happy, looks forward to your visits and her mood has changed…your visit made a big difference!”

A bit of context here: In Canada caretakers like Gordie are paid an OK salary and they do not get tips (spaga, kickbacks or payoffs) for what they do . I can tell you as a business man you really have to like what you do in this kind of job/environment and you need to have a genuine interest in people. This is a skill I don’t have, yet admire.

What he told me made me feel like 1 Million bucks…no make that 10 million bucks when I left the healthcare facility that day.

What’s my point?

1) He did not have to tell me this nor was he getting anything in return,

2) He cares for my mother and a whole lot of similar/worse patients on that floor,

3) His kind words made me feel like I was on top of the world,

4) As a result of these kind words I felt good but more specifically I thought to myself: Mission Accomplished. I came to Canada to visit my mother and it was clear that it had made a difference.

So you’re probably thinking …Paul – big deal? We all have to visit our ailing parents and this is our duty. True.

My point is that a complete stranger (to me) through carefully selected words made a world of difference to me – a few kind words woke me up.

My point: We all have this ability!

In our jobs as leaders we get the job done through managing people and at times we need to be tough, ruthless, impartial, bold, quick, impersonal and rude. After all that‘s business right!?

However if you keep screaming , putting down and never thanking your staff for exceptional work that kind of treatment loses its effect – they will no longer respect you. Why?

There is no point to perform since you are never happy!

If you add a few “Congratulations”, “Thank you” and “What you did made a difference ” that staff member will go back to her spouse that evening and tell them that ” the boss was happy with me today”. You really have this kind of effect on people.

Saying “Thank you “, “Good job” too often is not good either however.

Like sport coaches you have to reprimand for mistakes but celebrate the victories. You have to tell people when they are ‘messing up ‘but also help them improve in the process.

You have to combine the good and the bad.

I don’t care if you clean garbage for living (respectable living in my opinion) or if you are Barrack Obama. We all need to get some feedback; yes positive when we deserve it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your CEO does not appreciate being told by his peers that he/she is doing a good job ( of course, this does not happen too often). We all need this!


The ideal way to recognize an employee is in front of his/her peers. There is no stronger effect in my experience when you publicly recognize an employee amongst their peers when that employee undertook a “WOW” performance.People who know me and have heard my speeches know that I am a keen observer of leadership skills and what it takes to motivate people. When a complete stranger shocks me on”what a difference I have made” it reminds me that we can all lead this way…with just a few kind words.

You have the ability, the knowledge and now the reminder.

Try it this week and tell me what happened.


  1. Ray September 20, 2011at13:06

    Great blog Paul…terrific illustration of how powerful a “kind word” can be. Interestingly the giver of the “kind word” often experiences a moment of joy as well.

    1. Paul September 20, 2011at18:58

      Indeed – it works both ways. Thanks for the input – always welcomed!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.