The First Agreement is “be impeccable with your word”. Let’s first define impeccable. Merriam-Webster defines impeccable as being free from fault or blame; flawless. Why is it important to be impeccable with our words? Words are powerful. Think about it, we often say, “You have my word.” to seal the deal on something we plan to carry out. Words are powerful.
Words carry messages, they can build people up, and they can tear a person down. Ultimately, your words say a lot about who you are. Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Being impeccable with your word is the correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself.” He says this in the context of self-talk (the voice that talks to you in your head) as well as how you speak to or about others. The energy he speaks of refers to the purpose behind your words. Words are powerful.
The first agreement is by far the most difficult to carry out, yet it is the most important because each of the other agreements ties directly back to being impeccable with your words. Through the practice, one’s awareness of the words that are spoken (and at times thought) is suddenly heightened and we begin to notice the energy the words carry. I can also remember teams agreeing that this was the most difficult agreement to learn. In writing this blog series, it has been the most difficult to write about.
Words are powerful.
I’ve heard many employees say, “I just can’t trust my manager, they never do what they say they are going to do.” Ouch! This can be damaging on many levels. First, trust and respect can be diminished, especially if this is something that continues to happen over and over. Your words become meaningless and recovering from this can be quite difficult, but it will require impeccability with your word.
Sometimes what we say we are going to do and our ability to execute on that can change. Situations like that come up in workplaces where there are constant changes. Let’s face it, this is most workplaces. Most people understand that change in trajectory is often necessary, and it shows impeccability when acknowledgement of the change is spoken. This can deepen trust and strengthen relationships.
The power of words can influence how others think of another person, often even before meeting a them. Which leads to the subject of gossip. Gossip is another way that goes against being impeccable with your word. It is prevalent in the workplace, and it can rip teams apart, diminish productivity, and even ruin individual careers. Words are powerful.
For the sake of exploration, let’s say for instance that there is a team member transferring to another workgroup. The current reporting manager tells the new manager how excited and relieved he or she is that that person is moving on and then goes on to share information about that employee’s personal life that does not align with the new manager’s beliefs. The new manager then takes on a perspective of that new employee. What if they take on a negative view of this new employee before that person even had a chance to showcase what they could do. Imagine being that employee, and how difficult it might be to overcome a situation like that.
Impeccability with your words in the workplace also helps improve clarity in your communication and strengthens emotional intelligence. Meaning what you say and saying what you mean ultimately builds your credibility and leadership. Words are powerful. Lastly, being impeccable with your words also helps you sort through the stories that you tell yourself about situations. This is especially important for next week’s agreement; don’t take anything personally.