Sunday, 13 November 2011
The Power of Words
I had a conversation with a friend recently about the power of words and what effect the things we say can have. Effects, I think it is fair to say, the speaker may often be unaware of.
Maybe that is part of the reason writing appeals to me, because from a young age I knew how powerful words could be. That’s not to say I’ve never opened my big mouth and not realized ‘til afterwards what I’d said had caused embarrassment, discomfort or hurt.
Or worse, never realized...
Unfortunately I think this has probably happened more than I care to think about, even though I’ve tried hard in recent years to be more aware of the words I speak and the effects they may have.
Maybe it’s easier with writing, because you draft and revise and redraft and revise and therefore what survives to be read at the end of the process should be pretty close to our intended meaning. At least in theory.
But often we speak before we even think about what we’re saying. We speak from some sort of emotional or gut reaction to what we’ve seen, heard and felt. We speak in self defense or all out attack. We speak to say what we think others want to hear. Or we speak to give voice to our ego, our fear or our ignorance. Or, we speak simply to avoid an uncomfortable silence.
Henceforth may we both strive in our speech and our writing to use words to build people (and their hopes, dreams and aspirations) up, rather than tear them down… unwittingly or otherwise.