By Michelle Porchia
I've written several articles and taught many workshops on the power of words. I've said words paint pictures and we need to think about what picture we are painting in our own mind and the minds of others.
At work we need to set clear expectations and make sure that people understand what is expected of them. Clarity of understanding, expectations, and meaning is key to positive conversation and productivity. Clear expectations are not just about work but also about home and school. People usually want to know: What am I to do? What is expected of me? What will be the consequences? And most importantly, people want to feel acknowledged and appreciated.
Recently I watched a segment on "What Would You Do?" An employee with Down syndrome is bagging and the scenario is a man and then a woman (both actors) are complaining about him being slow (speed wise) but then they start calling him slow (mentally), retarded, "these people", etc. Words hurt. Many words have taken on negative and hurtful meanings. There are debates on what words meant in the past and what those words mean now. People in the store stood up for the employee and called the "actors" out about what they were saying about the employee.
Bottom line: We need to look at the content of our speech, the intent of our message, know our audience, and the delivery of message. My mother used to say, "It's not just what you say, it's how you say it." And I will add, "What is your body saying?" If I have a screaming face, though my words may be appropriate, my face may be adding emphasis to what I'm saying.
There is a huge discussion on the use of certain words in the press right now (I won't go into detail as it is political and I would need a lot more space to cover it). The point is, the use or not use of certain words and phrases has set off a major firestorm, has hurt many people, and has caused polarization, losing the true issue.
I think the quote below by Gerry Spence encourages us to remember that we are all people, individuals. We have feelings. We get hurt. We love. We have goals. We often are products of our environments. Yet, we are people. I think this point has gotten lost in so many areas...in our streets, communities, businesses, places of worship, and the media.
"We are not our profession, our bank accounts, our status in life. We are people first." Gerry Spence
People first. Words are powerful. They can lift up or tear down. They can help or hurt. They can encourage or discourage. You have a choice. Choose wisely!
By Debra W. Gould, MS
Words have power. They can be used to create or destroy. Used without thinking, they can stir unwanted reactions. However, when words are spoken with purpose and precision they pave the way for your dreams to become real.
So, what are your dreams? What is most important to you? If you could create or experience anything, what would it be? Is it freedom? Happiness? Fulfilling work that produces prosperity? Do you crave intimacy, a powerful partnership, genuine love or all of the above? Do you want to resolve a persistent problem? Or perhaps stop settling for less? Consider: What do you really want? Are you inspired to be healthy and fit? Do you wish to evolve into a wiser and more loving parent? Are you motivated to build a legacy? Travel? Explore? Make a difference?
Words matter because they materialize as matter. Words can transform challenges into opportunities. They can be used to gather information and clarify meaning, which open lines of communication allowing you to understand another’s point of view.
And it’s not just the words you speak, it’s the intent fueling your words, and the way you frame the language you choose that will determine whether you elicit resistance or accord.
What do you say after the words I Am? The words you choose influence how you see yourself, how others see you and what is possible for you. Do you say things that disempower or empower you? Do you say, “I’m stressed, I’m bored, I’m tired, I’m broke, I’m alone?” Or, “I am centered. I am inspired. I am focused. I am clear. I am ready. I am grateful.”
When you use the words I Am, you invoke your power to create. These words are potent! Be aware of what you link them to. The thing you are claiming has a way of reaching back and claiming you.
Debra W. Gould, MS is the president of Debra Gould & Associates, Inc. based in New Orleans and provides management consulting and training services to commercial and government clients. Debra is one of the founders of The Ebony Speakers and co-author of the book, Real Women, Real Issues - Positive Collaborations For Business Success. Debra can be reached at: (504) 244-6576,
email: firstname.lastname@example.org and
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