Word Power

The power of communication and the words used can make us either feel elated or despondent. There was a saying we used to sprout when I was a younger, ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me’. Unfortunately words have energy and do hurt. Negative words sometimes linger in our unconscious minds for a lifetime.

There have been a multitude of different experiments to show the impact that words have. Two school classes were chosen one which had weak, non performing students and the other bright, well performing students. Two teachers were told that the weak performers were bright and the other was told the bright were weak. Over the course of the experiment the teachers told the weak students how bright they were and that they could achieve high results. They were encouraged with positive words and given work which stimulated them. The bight students were treated as if they didn’t have any abilities and there were no expectations placed on them. They were bored and started to play up in class and the teacher went into what I call ‘control mode’ where words are used as a tool to tell students they won’t get anywhere in life and so forth. After a period of time the students were tested and it clearly showed that the words of encourage and expectations with the weak students resulted in high grades and the words of control, negativity resulted in bright students showing weak grades.

As young children when we want to get our way, humiliate, or purposely hurt someone we use words of hatred such as ‘I hate you’ or possibly stronger words that may have been overheard elsewhere, then used because one gets the reaction that one wants. Are we any different as adults? As we develop we become more sophisticated with our use of words that are then used to threaten, manipulate, accuse, guilt or slander another. There is always a reaction to the action.

Consider how you can use words to build and restore rather than tear down and destroy. Think about words that are healing, the three most powerful are, ‘I am sorry, I forgive you, I love you’.

Abuse is not just physical it can also be emotional and psychological. Victims of abuse often go their whole lives with the perpetrator never saying I am sorry. Victims blame themselves and carry  the guilt.  Even if the opportunity to confront their perpetrator occurs the scars of the inner child are deeply entrenched. The residual effects can also show up as being incapable to love and nurture a partner fully and memories of feeling unsafe can reoccur in certain circumstances.

When we speak we should speak with mindfulness. This term is being used in organisations and schools alike to show that the power of words have impact and that we should be aware of where we are, what we do and not over react on what is happening around us.

Though people generally are compelled to give their opinions on everything,  the icing on the cake I feel is a show called Googlebox showing both in Australia and the UK that has a cult following. This TV show is about people, watching other people, on TV shows. Those watching make comments and speak their minds that range from amusing to horrifying.

Words have greater power, when used with volume, tone and body language. Think of the word Hello. Speak it in a quiet voice as if shy, speak it in an angry voice, speak it in a disdainful way, speak it with joy, speak it with excitement. What do you notice? Your emotions are fully engaged in the word just by the way you speak it.

When was the last argument you had? Think about the words you used. Did you dump all you emotions on the other or did you try for an outcome that was win win. When was the last time you inspired someone, speaking with enthusiasm and encouragement?

‘Think of how politicians use words to usually say very little. George Orwell who wrote an essay called ‘Politics and the English language stated,“[The] invasion of one’s mind by ready-made phrases can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them,” he said, “and every such phrase anesthetizes a portion of one’s brain”.

Communication today has become compacted and compressed and the words used ambiguous with euphemisms promoted to usually defend the indefensible. It is also a reality that the emoji’s are now taking over the world, so rather than send a message send a……….

© Conversations That Matter

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