Take a moment to reflect on your day. How many times have you spoken today? What did you say? Could you have gone through today without speaking to someone? Well, that may be nearly impossible, as human beings speak to communicate with one another. Without speaking, life will be a lot harder; and with some of the unpleasant things we say, we make life difficult for the people around us.

Studies have shown that, reinforcements; any stimulus which strengthens or increases the probability of a specific response; can tremendously influence people’s attitudes and behaviors. Meaning, if a person sings and receives positive reinforcements, they are encouraged to keep singing. However, if that person receives negative reinforcements, they are discouraged from singing.

Last December, I found myself on the set of a commercial production. It was my first time on set and I was very excited about it. The shoot which was scheduled to end by 8pm, ended up running late into the night until the next morning around 4am. There was a 9-year-old actress who had been waiting on set the whole night. When it was time to shoot her scene, she was obviously very tired and just wanted to go back to sleep. As expected, her tiredness affected her performance on set. The director, realizing this, first started by commending her for a good job done with the first few scenes, then, he directed her on the changes he wanted her to make in subsequent scenes. The shoot turned out to be a success, and the commercial came out beautifully, and was broadcasted all over television. This is a clear example of how positive reinforcement affects productivity. As a line manager or worker, how you interact with other workers directly affects their productivity. Are you the screaming boss or the boss whose employees feel comfortable sharing their challenges with? I have heard of employees who hide mistakes they have made from their bosses because of how their bosses will react. This affects productivity in the long run, especially when the boss is in the right position to fix the employees mistake, and provide a teachable moment for growth. Speaking to team members at work in a way that shows they are primarily human beings, involves respect, good communication skills and emotional intelligence; all of which will boost productivity at the workplace.

Our words and demeanor in our office spaces can make our co-workers happy, sad, anxious etc. Imagine a coworker crying at the work place because she felt bullied by another co-worker. We commute to work every morning to collectively work towards achieving our companies’ ultimate goal and improving the organisation’s bottom line. Work can be stressful, as such; one should not be subjected to working in an environment where they feel unhappy because of what another employee says to them.

In a nutshell, what we say has the potential to positively or negatively affect our environment. We should all therefore endeavor to provide safe spaces for the people around us by choosing our words carefully.


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