Our Words Matter, Oh Yes They Do

posted in: Mindfulness | 0

Remember that childhood response to bullies? “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Who ever came up with that piece of malarkey? News flash folks. Our. Words. Matter!

Well-adjusted adults know that name calling is a form of bullying and taken to extreme can have dire consequences. But how about those everyday exchanges with other people, and ourselves? Do we choose our words with caring and intent? Are they heartfelt, kind, necessary and truthful?

Twice in the last week, in business dealings, I received what was presented as apologies. But were they really? “I’m going to apologize, even though I didn’t do anything wrong” (yes he really said that), is not an apology. Neither is “I’m sorry, I guess I didn’t explain it to you clearly. I don’t like any of these samples and I don’t like your fees. I’m going to shop around.” Words must have the sincerity to back them. Words said without intention or with a different intention than presented are meaningless or worse, hurtful.

In both these cases, some thoughtful responses would have changed the whole conversation, and honestly, my view of these people. In the first example, if he felt there was nothing to apologize for, another response would be “Let’s start this over so I can present it in a different way.” Even saying nothing would have been better. In the second example, just leaving out the words “I guess” would have changed everything, or saying “I should have explained it more clearly.” Then a dialogue could have followed, so I better understood what he wanted. Take ownership, people. Speak your truth, just be mindful of your words.

Words have power. They have the power to heal or harm, uplift or discourage, nurture or dishearten. Always be mindful of the language you use, both to yourself and others.

Positive self-talk is a huge factor in positive self-image. Yet, we often engage in negative self-talk, so often that we might not even be aware of it. In these cases, where my work was being critiqued, my automatic reaction was, “Wow, two in one week, I suck.” If I had taken the pause, my response could have just as easily been, “Okay, this is not going to be a good fit. I’m not clear on their vision of the work. They don’t seem to want to verbalize their vision, or give me a chance to make it right.”

When you deal with others, take a moment and ask yourself if the words you are about to say hurt or heal. Keep these positive phrases in mind and use them often, with intent and heartfelt meaning:

I’m listening.
Sometimes, someone just wants to be heard. Stop what you’re doing and give them your full attention.

I’m sorry.
If you made an error, own up to it and offer your sincere apologies. Not “I’m sorry if I hurt you,” or “I’m sorry but…” Just I’m sorry, I was wrong, I apologize.

I forgive you.
This only works if the other person understands they did you wrong, or it could backfire on you. And again, with all these phrases, you must mean it and then move on.

I appreciate what you do.
Think about how you feel when someone close to you shares those words. When you tell others you appreciate them, you let them know that you’ve noticed the good things they did.

Thank you for your kindness.
Again, this shows that you notice and appreciate the kind things people do.

I love you.
Not love ‘ya. Not heart emojies. The real thing. When a loved one is having a rough day, or just for no reason at all, these words can bring warmth, joy and solace.

Before you speak, take a pause to ask yourself those four important questions: Is it heartfelt? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it truthful? If you can answer yes to all four questions, you know you are being mindful with your words and offer them with intent and purpose.

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