When in doubt, should you drop the hammer?
My son and one of his teenage friends had a disagreement recently. They were both quite upset with each other over some false assumptions made by each of them. Neither of them understood what was true, nor did they take the time to consider each other’s perspectives. As a result, this disagreement carried on longer than it needed to. Eventually, and much to my surprise, they cordially confronted each other to “drop the hammer”. Yes, you read that correctly. My son mistakenly asked his friend if they could “drop the hammer,” put the past behind them and get back to being friends.
Amazingly, both parties agreed they would “drop the hammer” and get back to being friends. The next day, they were polite to each other, and most of the anger and anxiety they both carried for way too long was gone.
When he told my wife and me the story, my wife quickly said, “Did you mean to say BURY THE HATCHET?” We all started laughing when he realized he had used the wrong idiom to help diffuse the situation! Most of us know that “Dropping the Hammer” and “Burying the Hatchet” has two very different meanings. The first means to “Hold nothing back. To come in at full force!” while the latter means to “let bygones be bygones, and let’s put the past behind us.”
The point here is that leadership isn’t about the choice of words you use; it’s about the actions you take. His friend didn’t respond to the actual words. They responded to his tone, intent, and actions when he politely said “hello” the next day in the hallway.
Of course, this isn’t to say that words are not important. The words we use matter. However, we should all remember the ancient proverb, “Actions speak louder than words.” Even when we can’t find the right words, what we DO is what truly matters. When you don’t know what to do, try being kind. Do good. That’s usually a great place to start.