Is it true? Are words just words? Isn’t that what we tell ourselves and our children when someone’s comments hurt us?
Words are powerful. Either spoken or written, they help us communicate and express ourselves. Unfortunately, words can be negatively charged, and as such, can affect our lives. Our perceptions, attitudes and interpersonal relations can become depressing and pessimistic. WE are responsible for whatever we speak, write or text. We must, therefore, be careful about the words we use, and always remember that impulse texting or emailing in a near-conflict situation might result in misunderstanding, miscommunication, or even and argument. If you feel yourself getting upset, maybe wait a bit, cool down, and then respond. It’s more difficult to keep your composure when speaking in person, as very often our body language and facial expressions will tell what we really want to say. At least when you are on the phone, you can say you have another call and will call back to finish the unpleasant conversation. When faced with negativity in person, practice a smile, no matter how fake at that moment, and try to speak slowly to create some time for your brain to formulate the right answer. Unfortunately, words, once spoken, cannot be erased…
But it’s not only words themselves that carry weight. Sometimes, the way we combine them in a sentence will result in not quite the message we meant to convey …
Take the word “but”, for example.
“I love my new baby, but he keeps me up at night.”
Doesn’t this sentence imply that you are not quite too happy? You would be if it wasn’t for your disturbed sleep, therefore, it diminishes the joy of having your new baby.
“I have a great job, but I don’t have time to date.”
The satisfaction of having this great job is now diminished as you have no time left for your love life.
What if we changed the but into an and?
“I love my job and I don’t have time to date.
What you’re now saying is that your job is so awesome, that even though you don’t date at this time, it makes you feel quite great about yourself, regardless.
Also, watch out for the negative idioms, like in: ” I can’t wait to see this movie.” Yes, you can. Little waiting won’t do you any harm.
It would sound so much better if we said: “I’m so excited to go to see this new movie.”
“I died when she said that.” Really, you did not die.
One more example of a better choice of wording. Your friend goes on a great vacation to Bhutan. He tells you about it, and the first thing you say is: “I’m so jealous.” Doesn’t it sound foolish? No class, right? Instead, let’s say: “I’m so happy for you.” It will make both of you feel good.
Research shows that negatively charged words spoken to a person can affect their job performance, their relationships, their academics if they are of school age. Pessimism will lead to depression, anxiety and unhappiness. Just as positive thinking, speaking and communication will create a positive attitude, positive actions and positive outcomes – all leading to life satisfaction and Happiness.
We are so used to certain phrases and idioms that they become an obvious choice in our conversations. But, behold, if we only paid more attention to the words we choose, we might find ourselves empowered and happier. Effective communication is a skill that can be honed. Reading and engaging in conversations help to improve. After a while it becomes easier to choose the right words, and we might even express ourselves better. If you only paid attention to the way people around you speak, just for one day, you’ll be amazed at the words choices and its impact on others. And there always will be the ones who, somehow, do it well – how come their speech is so classy and composed? Also, if you have children, please pay attention to the words they say, the way the say it, the message they leave behind. Correct if needed, and praise when praise is due. I remember times when other adults will say things like: “Didn’t your mother teach you how to answer/speak/behave?” That always made me feel ashamed. Now, I’m the mother, and I take responsibility for my children’s behavior, and I would never want them to be criticized for the way the speak just because I did not pay attention to them at home.
Let’s challenge ourselves to acquire that skill of effective communication, after all we use words every single day, why not do it well?