Words: Use Them Wisely

Like many people I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of words. In this blog I’m focusing on personal and professional relationships, and how the actions we take around those words can either reinforce their intended meaning, or completely diminish whatever was said.

Actions speak louder than words

How often do we say we’ll do something but don’t? Or say something we think we mean, but then the actions we take seem to contradict those words?

  • I’ll call you tomorrow.
  • I’ll drop off that book this weekend.
  • I’ll follow up on that item by email.

Lack of action or follow-through renders our offers meaningless. The result? Maybe nothing, but chances are people who we interact with on a regular basis may come to expect us not to deliver. In fact, repeat offenders risk losing the trust they may have tried to earn. So how can we course correct?

Do what you say or don’t say it

Before making an offer, to anyone (including yourself!), be sure you intend to fulfill it. And then do. If you aren’t sure, better to keep it to yourself until you are.

Saying it (or thinking it) doesn’t make it true!

No matter how much effort we put into self-examination and awareness we aren’t going to be perfect. We may think we’re saying something out of kindness and love but it’s really just an opinion or a criticism or a judgment. Even “truths” we tell ourselves should be subject to scrutiny. (I once worked with someone who was prone to telling lies to make herself look good, but would share with co-workers her dedication to being “authentic”. I don’t think that word meant what she thinks it meant. But to her, she was living her truth.)

Be your own personal coach

Isn’t it crazy how we might say things to ourselves that we’d never say to someone else? A good coach may need to be firm, but they will do it in a positive, supportive way. Listen and adjust that hyper-critical inner voice. Replace powerful statements like, “That was so stupid” when you spill something with kinder words you might say if the same thing happened to a loved one. “Oops. Mistakes happen.” Because they do! Instead of “You always mess that up” how about “what can you learn from this?”

Of course, we will make mistakes and say and do the wrong things. By paying attention and becoming more mindful about the power of words we can strive to improve how we use them.

Words: Use Them Wisely

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