By Cindy Yantis
“Words, words, words; I’m so sick of words!” When Eliza Doolittle sang these words in My Fair Lady, you believe her. She eventually comes around as Professor Higgins skillfully teaches her to love words.
Motivational speaker and author Les Brown speaks in quotable sound bites and uses words better than many for inspiring people to take action in their own lives. He says, “Never let what you want to say get in the way of what they need to hear.”
A recent discussion thread on one of the Linkedin groups stemmed from the question, “What 3 words best describe you?” The answers were many and ran the gamut from serious to professional to comical to advertorial to informative. Actually they were all informative to a point, giving a small glimpse into the character of the person posting the words. In this arena, words can label.
It also got me thinking about the infinite and palpable power of words and how as human beings – the only animal given the gift of spoken and written language – we have an inordinate responsibility to use our words to their greatest effect. Words can maim someone’s spirit, inspire people to action, teach a life lesson and increase the value of a person, place or thing. Words affirm, confirm and promise. They can encourage, discourage, make people laugh, cry or pause, fire people, hire people or make someone’s day.
If that’s not responsibility, what is?
Here are 6 ways you can use your words more effectively:
- Think before you speak – take a pause and realize the effect your words may have
- Be impeccable with your word – the first of the “The Four Agreements” written by Don Miguel Ruiz who said, “Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Use the power of your word to the direction of truth…”
- Don’t project your issues on others – own your own stuff by not using words that make your problems someone else’s
- Ask questions – show an interest by being honestly inquisitive in people and their lives
- Remember and use people’s names often – it’s a simple recognition that raises the level of connection between you and others
- Communicate, don’t alienate – transparent truth and directness gets much greater result than hiding behind a non-response or passive aggressiveness. Get it out and move on
Winston Churchill’s passion for words is exquisitely recorded in the 44 books he wrote, which include his many eloquent speeches. He wasn’t only a thought leader but a thought changer with his words. In fact, his 1953 Nobel Prize was for literature, which merely solidifies his standing as, arguably, one of the greatest wordsmiths of all time.
Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Effective words to live by.