We’ve all heard this, right? “Our words have power.” I remember hearing versions of that as a very young kid from my mom. I vividly remember one day in our kitchen when she told me that my words have the power to slice another person in half. In half. That was quite a visual for a young kid, and that message stayed with me. (The movie Sling Blade had not been released back then but you can sure bet that I thought back to that conversation with my mom when I saw it!) In that same conversation, she told me something else; that it is better to keep my mouth shut if what I have to say about someone is critical or negative. She ended our little talk by telling me that if I remembered those two things, I’d get along pretty well in this world.
I wish I could say that I have lived my entire life holding those words close and letting them be my guide. To be sure, I have slipped up from time to time. But I have come back to them over the years, and I have revised them just a little based on my life experiences and learning. So, here are two important messages I’d like to share with you about the power of our words. And, by the way, thanks Mom!
1. What we say about other people says a lot about us…
I am convinced that our world would change if we realized that what we say about other people says more about us than it does them. Leo Aikman said it this way, “You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.”
Here’s what I know: People who feel good about themselves, who explore and find out who they really are, are honest with themselves about what they value in life, and seek to have healthy relationships don’t slice other people up! It just doesn’t happen.
2. If we are going to say something about someone, we need to be willing to say it to them…
This could change the world too. Imagine if we simply stopped talking about people and had the courage to talk to them about whatever was on our minds. There would be no more backstabbing, no more crushed feelings, and no more egg on our faces.
We have the power to change the world and we can begin to claim that power when we take responsibility for our words.