• Words Matter

  • When my niece, Brianna, was learning how to talk there would be times when she would point at things or make baby sounds and her parents would say “use your words” to encourage her to verbally convey what she wanted or needed. Today, she is 7 years old. She’s bright, articulate and full of questions. She uses her words very well to share her thoughts in a constructive manner. It is clear that the words she hears and the words she chooses to use have a profound effect on her, the way she carries herself, how she thinks and expresses ideas. I believe the same is true for everyone.

    As a public relations professional, I am quite aware of the power of words. When I work with clients or conduct a workshop or training, I often talk about developing key messages to effectively communicate ideas, thoughts, attitudes, actions and expressions. The more effective you are at connecting with your audience, the greater the return you will see in your business or as you try to advance the mission and goals of your organization.

    Both spoken and written, words can be used to persuade, challenge, defend, educate, change behaviors and attitudes, and move people to action. On the negative side, words are often used to bully, threaten, belittle, contradict and chastise others.

    The bottom line is simple: WORDS MATTER. What we say or write and the intent behind it can bring about great accomplishments or irreparable damage.

    As we are rapidly approaching the end of this year, I’ve been reflecting on the divisive and bitter presidential campaign/election and wondering how our country will be able to move forward in a positive manner.

    During the hard-fought contest, I heard some people say that they did not care too much about what the then-candidates said, they were more interested in their chosen candidate’s actions. I heard that sentiment from both Republicans and Democrats, and it troubled me greatly.

    The conclusion of the 2016 election has the country fractured and there remains quite a bit of acrimony between many of the supporters from Hillary Clinton’s camp and President-Elect Donald Trump’s camp. There have been assaults, riots, verbal confrontations, vandalized property, racist attacks, fake and sensationalized news stories, and more – all stemming from poor choices in rhetoric.

    In spite of some of these terrible outcomes, we have also witnessed people who have opposing views sit down and hold rational conversations (using their words). And that is what I believe is necessary. We need to have more conversations where people talk to one another instead of at or over each other. We have to find common ground and work from there. I truly believe that we all have mutual concerns, interests, hopes and dreams. If only we could start at that point and build the conversation from there. I am not suggesting that there will be agreement on everything, but I am hopeful that we can learn how to hear each other and agree to disagree when we don’t see eye to eye.

    We ask our children to speak in a constructive manner. Shouldn’t we expect adults to be held to the same standard or better? Words can inspire the world. How we “use our words” makes the difference.

    What do you think?

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