I’ve been thinking a lot about communication lately. Specifically, what the power the words we use have on us, what they really mean, and what the actual cost is to a person who utilizes them. So here are 5 things I believe are true about the words we use:
Words Can Be Everything
At the right moment, to the receptive person, words can be everything. They can be uplifting, inspiring, provide comfort, reveal wisdom, craft a sense of purpose, and create a bond between us that is unique to the human experience. There is no other animal that I can think of that will have a change in thinking or mood due to a verbal or written communication. Being able to alter a mood, provide inspiration, deliver guidance, exchange ideas, and through that affect a real change is an absolutely amazing power that we far too often take for granted.
You Live And Die By Your Choice of Words
Just as words can be a positive influence, they can also be destructive. We all make choices in life that we will live and die by, including the choice of words we use. Too often we don’t contemplate our wording and therefore our message can be misconstrued and received not as we had intended it.
You Need To Own Your Own Words
YOYOW or You Own Your Own Words is not just me tipping my internet age, but just something that needs to be understood whether you are tech savvy or not. The saying originates from a The WELL, one of the original internet Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) and is one of its founding principles in a new age of communication. While The WELL is arguably where the first Internet troll reared his head, the policy of being responsible and accountable for what you said (whether it was good or bad) did nothing other than mirror a societal expected norm when face to face with someone.
Words Are Cheap
I remember when I first started writing for publication how I thought $.05 per word for an article was pretty cheap. My goal was to get to the level of the $.25 per word publications, because there was REAL value in THOSE words. Now you’re lucky if you get ANY compensation for the words you write to display on a screen or a page. This isn’t a comment on the sad state of the freelance writer market, but more an illustration on the perception of how a word is valued in a goods market. The truth is that I can spit out over 10,000 words a day, but NONE of them will necessary make any sense. You can spit out words both by mouth, electronically, and on paper but it doesn’t mean they have any value.
Because of their cheapness it becomes too easy when false words are put forth. Fraudulent information, under the guise of truth and hidden behind a smile infuriates me like nothing else. The absolute cardinal sin of word usage there can be is the lie. What does hold some value is the actual meaning behind those words, and for that reason, I believe words are just too damn cheap nowadays when they can be used so easily to mislead.
Words Really Mean Nothing Without Action Behind Them
When we come to the meaning of the words, well that becomes a whole other topic. We can have the best of intentions, with an absolutely honest belief in the words we spew forth in their chosen form, but ultimately the real true test of our commitment to those words will be the action(s) that we then take. There is no substitute for following through on what you’ve said/written in the ether than a solid tangible action that compliments and reinforces it.
Words, while seemingly simple, have surprising complexities behind them. They can be the creators or destroyers of ideas, situations, and people. Their use is something we often take for granted and, most importantly, their effect is often not fully contemplated before they slip through our lips/keyboard. It is something I’d like to see changed… but in order to change something, first you need to use your words to communicate about it… which I’ve just done. Most importantly, you can’t change something that you didn’t realize, and so now hopefully the use and choice of words will be more of a conscious decision for myself… and maybe even for you.
Be well, use your words and own them.