Words are a big deal. I posted a tweet the other day that said we should think before we talk. Someone responded that sometimes we have to talk before we have time to think.
Now I like many people have spoken without the benefit of thought but “have to speak before we think”… I don’t think so. That sounds an awful lot like an excuse to me and a poor one at that.
Anyway it got me to thinking about the importance of words and that is the genesis of this post.
Words matter and they matter in more ways than we think.
Clearly what we say is vital, the words we select have major implications for how and even if, our intended message is received and understood. This is the area where people spend the majority of their time when “thinking” of something to say.
Just as important as what you say is how you say it. The tone of your voice can change the perceived meaning of many words. You know what you meant to say but your goal in communication should always be to make certain that the other person understood what you meant to say. If your tone is “off” there is a good chance you will be misunderstood.
Here’s is a little test for you in this area: If other people are telling you that you are snippy, hurried, loud, etc., then you most likely are. What they hear in your voice is their reality even if it isn’t yours. Remember, your goal is to be understood, so speak in a way that ensures that.
When you say what you say is also important. If people are too busy to listen, if they are distracted by other people or other things there is a good chance they won’t remember what you said even if they did initially hear it. If you want to be heard, make sure the person you’re speaking with is able to pay attention to what it is you’re saying.
Is there a purpose to what you’re saying? Why you say something will shape both the words you use and the tone you use to deliver them. You have the ability to tell what someone “really means” by how they say something. You’re not alone in that ability, other people have it too. Determine the “why” of what you’re saying before you say it, you may just decide to not say it at all.
Consider as well, who you are speaking with. While we always want to be respectful (I hope we always want to be respectful) of others it is even more important that we be respectful of ourselves. What we “tell” ourselves has an amazing way of becoming true. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t succeed; but for heavens sake, never, never ever say that to yourself. Just like other people can feed off our words, so do we. Make sure that you give yourself a “diet” of success words each and everyday.
Your words matter!
9 thoughts on “Your Words Matter”
Great article. I like the checklist approach for analyzing effective communication.
Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed the post!
Yes, words do matter. One day as a downcast teen, I was walking along with eyes on the ground, when I passed a lady. She said, “You have beautiful hair.” I looked up. She smiled. I never saw her again. But now almost 50 years later, I still remember her because of her kind words. Your post brought back this fond memory.
What a great example that proves the point – thanks for sharing it.
Simple, yet true. Articles like these never enough, even as a long-term professional in marketing i tend to learn new things, upgrade old stuff or simply to remind myself of important steps. Thank you Steve for sharing your thought and words 🙂
You’re right I think, we all know this stuff, the question is, can we remember to use it when we need it. I too find these kind of reminders helpful and this particular post was meant for me as much as anybody 🙂
I’m not sure if this is true but I have read that the Dalai Lama always asks himself 3 questions before he says anything: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
These are the 3 questions I’m always trying to keep in mind now.
Wow, that’s interesting. I can’t help but wonder how many things I wouldn’t have said if I had asked myself those questions before talking. I sure wound’t have said nearly as many things that I later wish I could have taken back.
Reblogged this on Gr8fullsoul.