The words we say to people may have immense power, especially when they are spoken in the right place at the right time. This is why it’s vital to be able to recognize such moments of vulnerability and act wisely. After all “some words when spoken can’t be taken back.” 

Check out: Leaders, Choose Your Words Wisely 






  • spring-loaded – containing a compressed or stretched spring pressing one part against another
  • stumble – trip or momentarily lose one’s balance; almost fall
  • persevere – continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success
  • reaffirm – state again as a fact; assert again strongly
  • undermine – damage or weaken (someone or something)


Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What is a touchpoint and why is it so crucial according to the author?
  • Can you describe the second touchpoint mentioned by the author?
  • Describe the author’s first performance review.
  • Why did Neil MacKenna, the outplacement councellor, make an impression on the author?
  • What’s tricky about the question “How is your pain?” according to the author?


Practice makes perfect


Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words.

________ instance, when I was ________ first year graduate student at the J. L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University taking a Management Policy class. My professor, Ram Charan, noticed that my schoolwork was starting to slip. I was not ________ taking a full load of classes but I was ________ working two jobs. I was stretched pretty thin. One day, Ram called me aside and said, “You can do better.” Those four words inspired me to hold myself ________ a higher standard. I remember those words ________ if they were spoken yesterday and that was over 35 years ago.


Fill in the blank spaces with the verbs in brackets used in appropriate tenses.

I ________ (be) with General Mills for six months and I was up for my first performance review. I was struggling to hit the ground running. I ________ (never work) in an office environment before in my life. Here I was, unmistakably a rookie. During the performance review, my manager ________ (offer) this observation, “Doug, you are clearly very determined to contribute here but, quite frankly, your work is very mediocre.” That comment, in and of itself, was something I was able work through. Next, I was to receive feedback from my boss’s boss. In this case, he ________ (write) six words down on a piece of paper to be read to me. Those words were, “You should look for another job.” This was the first performance review I ________ (receive) in my life and my boss’s boss, whom I thought was a god, just told me to go look for another job. He wasn’t inclined to give me the time of the day or the benefit of the doubt. I was devastated and very anxious but ultimately I played through it. Those six words ________ (remind) me that the corporate journey is not for the faint of heart. You must bring great resolve to your work. It’s not all a bed of roses.


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