Words matter. They are the bricks with which we build identity, relationships, and through these, the world. This illuminating experiment has an interesting message for us all.
Ikea wanted young people to think about the impact of bullying. They put two, identical house plants in enclosed containers in one of their stores and piped recorded voice to them 24/7 for 30 days.
One plant got only loving, appreciating messages. The other was bullied. Whoever walked by could watch as the messages did their work. Young people were allowed to record some of the messages themselves.
At the end of the experiment, the loved plant had grown and was thriving, the bullied plant appeared to be dying.
Was this science? No. There was no control and, there’s nothing to prove that plants, without ears, central nervous systems, etc. were responding only to the messaging and not something else.
But, it does get one thinking about the impact of our words, both to others and to ourselves.
Public Speaking is a particularly stressful activity, and very few come into class feeling enthusiastic and confident. Most jump right into self-criticism … self-bullying. When they come forward to speak, the result is nerves, struggle for eye contact, inhibited, nervous body language and a thin tone of voice. The Public Speaking equivalent of the wilted plant. That’s not good!
I try to wrap every session with this message: The way you define your performance in a presentation impacts the energy and confidence you bring to the next. Deem one a failure and the next one will be. Find the things in yours that set you up to grow and succeed.