The Power of Words
Our words carry the power to hurt or heal. They are just as powerful online as when spoken. However, just like a friend or acquaintance whose story changes with the direction of the wind, we must make sure to maintain consistency. No, this does not mean that we cannot change our minds. It means that our words – like the wind – should not change based upon the circumstance.
It would be a safe bet to say that we’ve all heard the saying about sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. Have you ever wondered why young children are taught this? Why must we give children a shield against words?
I recall my father telling me to be aware of not just what I say, but also how I say it. “It’s not just what you say but HOW you say it?” While I didn’t realize it at the time, I know now that he wanted to make sure that I knew the power of words. I am sure, as a kid, I didn’t want to do something and was making my displeasure known by the way I acted – the way I spoke. Think about it. You can say something like “thank you” but the way we say it – the tone we use – reveals something different.
It is all communication.
By and large, Communication is a purposeful activity of exchanging information and meaning across space and time using various technical or natural means, whichever is available or preferred.
Communication requires a sender, a message, a medium and a recipient, although the receiver does not have to be present or aware of the sender’s intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast distances in time and space.
Info via Wikipedia
I attended a customer service class back in the 90s and part of the material covered assisting customers either in person or over the phone. This was before text, instant messages, etc. This was even before AOL’s $19.95 unlimited dial-up rate! I do not recall the exact percentage but I do remember one statement. (We will use 80% in the following example.)
Communication is not intent – it is perception. Perception is 80% of the message leaving only 20% for intent.
Now, do I believe this always applies? No, not necessarily. I believe communication is situational.
History provides indisputable evidence of the power of words. We (or others) give ourselves/us labels and those can be use to exalt or demean. Words such as Your Honor, His Highness, King, Professor, Governor, and Doctor all give prestige. Words such as dummy, ugly, pathetic, silly, and many more demean. Then, there are those words – painful words – used to deliver nothing more than hate. They will not be used as I will not give them the power of being repeated here; however, you know them.
None of us are perfect. We’ve used words to hurt others at least once in our lives. Again, not a single one of us is perfect. I am not.
The Positive Power
Words are not just weapons. They can also be instruments of healing. Saying “I’m sorry” to someone who has been wronged potentially begins the healing process.
What say you?