Language is one of the most important tools that we have. Words are the building blocks of the way we communicate. We use words all day, every day.
But how often do we think about the way we communicate? How often do we consider the words that we use? And what about the impact that those words have on others and ourselves?
We can communicate in a way that’s easy to understand by using simple and succinct language. Or we can cause confusion by using unnecessarily complicated words (often to sound intelligent or important). Ideas are naturally unorganised, messy, and ambiguous. Communicating in a precise way takes careful and deliberate thought.
We can communicate in a way that’s beautiful. There’s nothing more rewarding than reading the work of an author who you admire. Well written prose paints a picture far more beautiful than any film can. But it’s much easier to use words that are offensive, negative, and demoralising.
The words that we use affect those around us, and the words others use affect us. The right words, spoken at the right time, can be life-changing.
You might have heard the expression “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. Some people make you feel energised; you become engaged, lean forward, and feel stimulated. Others drain your energy. Finding the people who make you feel good, and then spending time with them, is one of the most beneficial things that you can do to improve the quality of your life.
The information you consume, the websites that you spend the most time on, the books you read, the podcasts you listen to, and the TV you watch all have an affect too. Words matter.
Science shows that a single statement can have profound neurological effects on our brain. Positive words promote the brain’s cognitive functional and promote the motivational centres of the brain into action. Negative words affect the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for fear), releasing stress neurochemicals that drive more negative thoughts.
The words that you use also affect your own beliefs and actions. If you repeat something often enough, you begin to internalise it. Over the past 18 months, I’ve been writing about how I think business should be done. By articulating my thoughts and sharing them, I’ve developed a deeper understanding of what I want to achieve and how I want to achieve it. It has changed the way I do business. And since I send my thoughts out to hundreds of people, I feel obligated to follow my own advice. No one wants to be a hypocrite.
Be considerate about the words that you’re using. Think about the words other people use and how they make you feel. Do they energise you or do they have the opposite effect? Use that to influence your own vocabulary.
Words are powerful. Use them wisely.