WordFood PyramidWordFood is based on the Four WordFood Groups. They are Heartbreads, Energy Enhancers, Character Fiber and Balance Builders. Each WordFood Group provides essential “nutrients” that others need from us to thrive in relationships.

HeartBreads 6-11 Servings

Heartbreads swell the heart and appeal to the emotions.

Heartbreads touch the human soul and inspire the heart.  This group forms the backbone, the building blocks of the WordFood Diet. These are the words that we must hear every day in order to thrive.  These include words of praise, positive reinforcement, caring, acts of active listening, graciousness, empathy, understanding, specific feedback tied to positive behaviors, catching people in the act of doing something well, gratitude, eye contact, warmth, openness, accessibility, trust, collaboration, cooperation, and open give and take.

Examples of Heartbreads include

“I love you.”
(To yourself) “I love living in your skin.”
“I appreciate you.”
“Thank you!”
“Thanks for coming in so early today.”
“You’re important to me.”
“You make such a difference in my life.”
“Thank you for everything you do around here.”
“I’m sorry you feel badly. What can I do for you?”
“You have a right to your opinion. I respect your viewpoint.”
“Thanks for taking the time to be with me today.”


Energy Enhancers – 3-5 Servings daily

Energy Enhancers swell the head, and apply to a specific action, skill or behavior.

This WordFood group includes compliments, acknowledgement and recognition. Regular servings of this WordFood group feed the listener huge confidence builders about their abilities and skills about a job well done. It can also provide helpful guidance on a project or assignment. Energy Enhancers are all about support, providing ways to add value to someone through words of encouragement, words that build self-assurance. People who get words from this WordFood group are thoroughly energized and pumped up.  They walk away ready to do their best, whether it’s an adult taking on a big project at work or a child tackling trigonometry homework.

Examples of Energy Enhancers

“You look great in that dress!”
“That was a super job you did on the Aspen Project.”
“You have excellent instincts for customer relations.”
“You are the best cook in the Southwest!”
“I wish I could ski like you do. Would you coach me?”
“You are beautiful.”
“That was masterful work on your presentation.”
“You’ve come a long way on your math skills. I’m so proud of you.”
“I admire your ability to research in such detail.”
“You made all the difference on the conference planning team.”


Character Fiber – 2-3 Servings

Character Fiber builds the backbone and creates the stamina.

Character Fiber words are all about developing power and depth, providing course correction, setting boundaries and guidelines. This WordFood group is all about creating better “bodies” through clarity and honesty, through giving guidance about life direction. This word grouping is provided during coaching and counseling, through mentoring and management, where a strong and caring hand is necessary to help provide perspective and judgment in challenging situations. When life offers opportunities through challenges, it’s time to seek guidance, and Character Fiber is the source. There is an internal “voice” that speaks to us.  Sources for this voice are found in spiritual authorities, universities, senior management and friends. Servings of Character Fiber are critical to personal, spiritual and professional development, and while it’s sometimes taxing, it’s always ultimately rewarding to live up to an opportunity for growth. This WordFood group also sets safe boundaries for how we wish to be treated by others.

Examples of Character Fiber

“My observation of your interactive skills is that they could use some work. Let’s talk about this some more. I know you’ve got the ability to be more effective in this area.”

“You’re very good with your individual relationships on your team but your strategic vision can sometimes be lacking. Let’s set a time when we can go over your long term goals and develop a vision for your department. I want you to achieve a promotion in the next few years and this is a key part of your development. “

“You’ve set some challenging goals for yourself but you’ve excluded your family and friends from helping you achieve them. Perhaps it’s time for you to stop being a loner and start receiving their love and support. It’s hard enough to set yourself lofty aspirations- but to isolate yourself is even worse. Let’s talk about how to learn to receive the love that your family and friends want to give you to help you reach your goals, so that they can be there for you when you make it to the top. “


Balance Builders – Use sparingly

Top preformer to tough love.

Balance Builders keep the pendulum from swinging too far in either direction.  They keep us on course. These Words are appropriate when someone is absolutely misbehaving.  Words in this group capture people about to go off the deep end, or who are reaching life’s heights.  Life is about balance, and this WordFood group addresses behaviors that are either in the high achievement category, which requires top awards and acknowledgement, or destructive behaviors that threaten to undermine us. 

Words of critique are sometimes important to show that there are areas needing improvement and that someone is not living up to expectations, standards or agreements, that someone is letting others down, are misbehaving or hurting others, that we ourselves are being hurt or lied to. WordFood in this group challenges others on toxic behavior, ill treatment, the overstepping of boundaries, lack of respect and other misbehaviors, but done so in a spirit of respect and setting an example.  On the other end of the spectrum, Balance Builders pay the maximum regard to incredible performance with high praise and compliments, sweet words and accolades that come only on rare occasions when called for. However, they keep the person’s head from getting too big.

Examples of Balance Builders

“It’s clear that you’ve been experiencing stress, but your behavior has impacted other team members and this has shown up in their performance as well as your own. It’s time to step down as team leader for a while and reconsider your best role in the company.”

“We all look up to the example you have set for extraordinary achievement here at Ball Company. Your impressive history at the company speaks for itself. We hope that young managers continue to learn from you. Thank you for your service.”

“You are disappointing yourself and me by not living up to the expectations of this position. You have the skills and the intelligence to do this job. And you came here highly recommended. For your own reasons you have made other choices with your time. This has had an unfortunate affect on a number of people who counted on you, including me. I am invested in salvaging this situation. What are you willing to do to help remedy it?”

Two important questions that you could ask  (from Switch, Heath & Heath) are:

“What would be the first indication that your performance is improving”?

“If a miracle solved your performance problem, what would you be doingdifferently tomorrow?”