Did You Really MEAN to Say That?

Words matter. Your words matter. Tone of voice, and tone of text and tweet matters too. How you say something is just as important as the something you say.

The greater the influence you have the more your words weigh. The greater the influence you have the longer your words linger in the minds they are spoken, or written to.

The old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is invalid these days. Actually I’m not sure it ever was valid but it’s clearly not now. And now, more than at any time in history it’s easy for people to throw words out to millions of people at a time.

That’s a lot of influence! With that influence comes responsibility.

I’m going to sound naive to some of you but I believe that the vast vast majority of people do not say things on social media with the intent to hurt others. Yet they somehow seem to forget that there are real live human beings impacted by the things they say and write. Some of those things do indeed hurt people.

I believe there is no such thing as a neutral human interaction. Every single time you interact with another human being, no matter how that interaction takes place, you leave that person feeling either better or worse about themselves and their situation. It’s always one or the other, it’s never neutral.

It may be an almost imperceptible change but it adds up. Leaving a person feeling a tiny bit worse about themselves or their situation time after time adds up. So does leaving them feeling better time after time.

Consider that BEFORE the next time you say or write something uncivil. Consider that BEFORE you say something hurtful that you wouldn’t want said or written to someone who matters to you. That person you’re saying it to may not matter to you but they most certainly matter.

Their views and opinions may seem completely wacky to you. But if you lived their life and were shaped by the same experiences that they were, you would think much the same as they do.

Their views do not make them a less valuable human being than anyone else. We seem to be forgetting that lately and we need to start remembering it before it is forgotten forever.

Here’s a good rule of thumb…don’t say mean things. If it would be mean if it was said to you then it’s going to be mean when you say it, or text it, or tweet it, to someone else. Figure out a way to say the same thing in a way that you wouldn’t consider mean or insulting (be honest) and say it that way. If you can’t figure that out then say nothing.

It’s a pretty simple rule but it can make a profound difference in the impact you have on the people you communicate with. You have the choice of being a positive influence or a negative one.

Which choice will you make?

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