By Sunny Simon
Words have immense power. I suppose that’s why I favor writing over speaking. As my fingers fly over the keyboard I can add, delete, edit and re-edit selecting the ideal words to convey my exact meaning. But when it comes to opening my mouth, sometimes the wrong words tumble out. Once that happens, there is no way to retrieve them.
I’m not just referring to sentences spewed in a fit of anger. Certainly those words can cause immense pain and have a tendency to rebound doubling the damage. If you’re prone to easily releasing a tongue lashing, I caution you not to engage in dialogue until you’ve given the consequences some serious consideration.
For purposes of this column, let’s focus on words used in everyday life that make a negative impression on others. For example, I know an individual, kind of a “woe is me” type, whose favorite catch phrase is, “You just don’t understand.” She says this frequently signaling her friends could not possibly feel the depth of her emotion. Obviously, these words convey the message that listeners are either too stupid, or not worldly enough to relate to her situation. If she stopped to analyze the effect her words produce, she might eliminate that phrase from her vocabulary.
Ever try to turn the tide by making a process change? If you did, I’m betting you heard my personal pet peeve, “This is the way it’s always been done.” Upon hearing those words, I want to throw up my hands and walk away. Why? Because it signals avoidance to doing anything different and rejecting the possibility of a beneficial change.
Think about phrases containing negatives. Ever offer sincere thanks to someone and get a “no problem” in reply? I’m guessing at least ten times per day, right? Wouldn’t you rather hear, “You are most welcome,” or “It was my pleasure.” I know I would.
A prime example of negative speak is, “I can’t,” or “It cannot be done.” Perhaps we all let those words slip off our tongue before thinking it through.
This week make it a point to inventory your vocabulary. Omit negative phrases you say more out of habit than purpose. Convey your meaning thoughtfully using positive communication whenever possible. Measure your words and speak them to represent a specific intent. Lastly, rather than rattle off empty words to fill a void, consider silence. Often it really is golden.
Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching and the author of the blog www.lifeonthesunnyside.net