The Power of Words

 

Words

A while back I posted on this topic and this morning it was brought to my attention again.

While I was on my morning run, enjoying some moments strung together without rain or snow, I met up with an older couple, each with their own garbage bag, picking up trash along the river trail. The river trail is my favorite place to run–when I’m not being attacked by big dogs–because it’s serene, lined with green trees and the river on one side, and wildlife from turtles to turkeys to coyotes. When I saw this couple I stopped, took out my ear buds and told them what they were doing was so nice and thank you. They stopped and looked at me, the woman sighed and smiled, her eyes bright. She said:

“That’s the nicest thing you could have ever said to us, is thank you.”

Wow!

The power of words. How easy it would have been to keep in my own world, listening to my music, being absorbed with me. How many times do we get busy living life that we forget to notice others around us. I know I do. The janitorial staff that comes on shift as I’m leaving the office, the paper delivery boy, the person who has a cart full of items at the grocery store and yet gets in the twenty items or less line and lets me go ahead when s/he sees I only have a few items. How easy it is to scowl that they’re in the wrong line anyway.

What I’ve learned as I travel my journey is that what comes out of my mouth affects the listener as much as the speaker. Not saying thank you to the person in the grocery line leaves my heart hard and burdened, my attitude dark, as self-righteousness grips me. That, in turn, shapes the way I treat others the rest of the day. When I say something kind, regardless of whether or not the person is doing something I perceive as wrong, it makes the person experience joy and it lightens my own heart. It feels good from the depths of my soul to be kind to someone.

When I carried on with the rest of my run after my encounter with the couple, my steps felt lighter, my heart glad, the day brighter.

Whether spoken or written, words carry enormous power. How easy it is to fire off that email or snail mail letter. Or how easy it is to speak something negative or derogatory about someone in the name of defending yourself after they’ve wronged you. I used to tell my kids when they were growing up, “Choose your words carefully. Words are like toothpaste–once it’s out you can’t get it back in the tube no matter how hard you try.”

Those are words I, as an adult, need to remember.

This week as I communicate with others and as I work on my writing, I’m going to work on remembering the power of words. Especially the two seemingly small words that carry great weight–“Thank You.”

And now I’m back to using my words at Camp NaNoWriMo. 🙂

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” — George Orwell, 1984

Bonfire-Brainerd

 

 

 

The Power of Words

This has been an interesting week for sure. Amidst all the excitement I was feeling about my book being published, I hadn’t even thought of the possibility that others wouldn’t share that joy.

While I don’t believe, for the most part, that people intend to be hurtful, that doesn’t change the fact that words can sting the heck out of someone.

Words

I work in a place that can be fraught with negativity on any given day, and I truly try my hardest to make the room I walk into a better place when I leave than when I got there. But sometimes that’s easier said than done, as some words can suck the breath right out of me.

Like the first time I got an “exceeds expectations” on my annual evaluation and I felt led to share it with a “friend” that also works there. Her words were, “I don’t want to bring you down, but it doesn’t matter what you do around here, it’s whether they like you or not.”

Ouch!

And the first time I received the employee of the month award, and a co-worker stated that it’s only a popularity contest.

Again…Ouch!

Ouch

This past week I hung a flyer up on the refrigerator door in the break room about my book being on Amazon and that I will have copies the week of the 23rd should anyone desire to buy one, well…

Conversation #1:

Co-worker: “So I hear you’re a writer. I read what your book is about and you do know there’s a book/movie with a similar plot line. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.”

Me: “I don’t think I have.”

Co-worker: “When I think of the name I’ll let you know. I’m sure you know it.”

Me: Nothing. Sometimes there simply isn’t a suitable response.

Conversation #2:

Co-worker: “I heard you published a book. How did you do that?”

Me: Nothing.

Conversation #3:

Co-worker: “So I see you published a book. Congratulations.”

Me: “Yes, I have. Thank you so much.”

Co-worker: “I don’t know how you can have the time. I would never have the time to do something like that.”

Me: Nothing.

While the words themselves don’t appear too hurtful, the tone and body language that accompanied them were.

I also received supportive, positive  comments like:

“I like to have friends who are ‘doers.'”

“You really are my inspiration.”

“I’m so thrilled for you!”

In fact the supportive comments were much greater in number.  But negativity can carry quite the punch, leaving the soul battered and bruised without knowing what even happened.

Said flyer came down until my thin skin grows a bit thicker, and I can sift out the harsh criticisms from the kindness.

In the meantime, I pray I’m aware of my words–and the way they’re conveyed–as I write and speak; that my words build another up, rather than tear another down. That they help rather than hurt.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  (Ephesians 4:29)

And I pray I use the negative for positive, not letting the enemy get his foot in the door. I have stories to tell, and I’m going to tell them. After all, isn’t that what we writers do?

Write on, my writer friends. 🙂

Here is a short video that proves the power of words and is well worth taking a moment to watch.  🙂