Words DO Matter

Today I heard on the radio - "It's nice to know that I can say whatever I want and no one cares. It's what I feel and I don't really have to speak in a politically correct way if I don't want to do so!" WOW! Apparently, that person doesn't care or they are unaware that their words can be hurtful. Does it not matter to them? Have we become people that really do not care what we say? How does this affect our children, our families, our professional lives?

Be impeccable with your word. That is the first agreement in a book written by Don Miguel Ruiz called "The Four Agreements." He says, "Your word is power. It is how you express yourself." I usually say - mean what you say and say what you mean. With this one statement, we get to decide the type of person that we choose to be. We get to decide how we would like other people to see us. Do we honor what we say? Are words really that important?

The words are important. Using words that are respectful help others really listen. I need to be straightforward yet I also need to use words that are respectful. Let's look at slang as an example. Slang definitely has a place in our society. Sometimes slang words describe things perfectly - kind of like "groovy." But sometimes slang can sound hurtful. How about when young ladies (or even young men) call their friends "bitches?" This word has been used in a derogatory way in the past. I know, others might argue that it is not hurtful - just slang. Yet if not used properly, all words will lose their true meaning. It's important to use words intentionally. Is the word(s) that I'm using conveying what I really want to convey?

The way we say things is important as well. Not only are words important but the tone or how we ask is also important. My husband and I were eavesdropping on a conversation that our 5 year old granddaughter had with her 3 year old sister. "Just ask in a nice voice, sister. Use your big girl words and Papa and Gigi will hear you." Isn't that what most of us want? We just want to be heard, right? Not only the words are important, but how we say them is just as important. We need to be aware of how it comes out of our mouths.

The method we use to speak to one another can be very important. Should I call on the phone, speak in person or even text? Sometimes when working with people I ask: "So when you talked with him/her what happened?" Then my client usually admits that they didn't really talk, they texted. Well that's the same thing, right? Nope. It isn't. So much can get lost in the translation. How many ways can you hear someone say "OK" via text. I've counted at least 6 different ways - excited, happy, angry, impatient, upset, blah . . . you get the picture. We "hear" the other person's voice in our head and make a judgement about what they say - even if it may be incorrect.

"The word is so powerful that one word can change a life or destroy the lives of millions of people," said Ruiz. Historically words have had a large impact on society. In the 1930's and 1940's a young man in Germany convinced many people that the only people who were acceptable are those with blond hair and blue eyes. Also in the 40's and 50's a senator was very convincing when many people were accused of being communist and lives were ruined. Even today we have politicians who call other people names like fat and ugly and even disrespect other nations with words like "crime-ridden mess, etc." Is this what we want our children to learn? What are we modeling for others?

The words we use are important. The way we say things is important as well. Lastly, the method we use is important. Listening to children can be educational. I learned that this summer when our granddaughters were visiting. Here's what happened - "Oh no, Gigi! Papa said - what the heck!" This exclamation came from our 5 year old granddaughter. Apparently "what the heck" - along with "shut-up" and "stupid" - are words that are on the NO list at their house. Our grandsons also know that if they speak kindly to others, then others are likely to speak kindly to them. "That's how we make friends, right Gigi?" It's nice to know that in some families, words really DO matter!

Are you impeccable with your word? Do words matter in your house? How do you want others to hear you? Be intentional with the words that you use!

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