Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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The Costly Exchange

First, Merry Christmas! 😊

I hope you enjoy an incredible and memorable celebration with your loved ones and exchange desirable gifts. A couple of weeks ago, I shared my wish for a white Christmas. Since then, my family has encouraged me to release the dream because the weather forecast does not predict snow. However, I am hanging on with bated breath, and if my wish comes true, I will be delighted. But, if it does not, I will carry on with a cup of creamy hot cocoa to warm my heart. 😉
With a hopeful spirit, let’s talk about this long-awaited day we longingly anticipate each year!

A day of exchanges

Today, as friends chomp at the beat to surprise each other, while parents scurry around to make 2023 the best Christmas ever, and children fidget as they unwrap their gifts, there is much on our minds, and we have plenty to say! However, to ensure the pot roast, prime rib, filet mignon, or your food of choice does not char in the oven, let my words be few. 😊

Leading up to this Christmas day, my mind swirled in the stratosphere of conversation, i.e., an oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. As we all experience, Christmas is a time of exchange. – We trade platters on the dinner table, exchange gifts around the Christmas tree, and swap parking spots as we go from one party house to another.

Ironically, the costliest exchange we make is none of the above, but it is one we know all too well. Capable of stirring the heart, compelling the mind, and driving action, this exchange happens when we speak, respond, and espouse our thoughts, ideas, and opinions. It is the exchange of words, and it is the costliest.

The costly exchange

Through experience, I learned that words can be lush roses or effective weapons. I recall those unfortunate instances when others uttered words that brought me to my knees and the lamentable ones when my messages broke the hearts of those I care about. Perhaps you can relate. When properly used, words are like roses – aromatic and augmentative, but when words are misused, they are a weapon capable of ravagement.

I have a hunch most of us have experienced both scenarios and are intimately familiar with the hefty price tag of words. Indeed, a carelessly spoken word is tragic and costly as it can neither be recalled nor returned.

To better illustrate this, I’ll share a story.

A splintered relationship

A few months ago, a close friend narrated a most unfortunate experience.
My friend is a single mom to a teenage son. Some time ago, she agreed with her sister that her son would live with her, i.e., his aunt, and attend a prestigious school. The arrangement was idyllic for multiple reasons. Notably, her sister and son share a very close bond that they formed since his birth. Therefore, as expected, her son lived with his aunt harmoniously, and she cared for him as if he were her child for many months.

However, on a specific day, missing his mom, he expressed a profound desire to go and live with his mom for a bit. His request offended his aunt, and she attempted to convince him to stay. But his mind remained unchanged. Incensed by his refusal, his aunt uttered an incredibly spiteful message and crushed his spirit. Devastated and broken, he called his mom, sobbing uncontrollably. His aunt’s words were so damaging that my friend committed never to repeat what her sister said to him to anyone.

Pieced together. Not connected.

Upon realizing the gravity of her words and the ensuing damage to her nephew, his aunt deeply regretted it. Remorsefully, she apologized to her nephew, and he accepted her apology but told his mother he would never forget what his aunt said and how she made him feel. Instantly, with a careless word, a close bond forged over many years splintered, and now, the only worthwhile opportunity was to do the hard work of rebuilding.
Indeed, as was wisely said, death and life are in the power of the tongue.

Friend, on this festive day and beyond, as we exchange ideas, thoughts, and gifts, may we use our words to give life. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

For you and to you,


Image credit: Pexels | Fauxels



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