Use your words.
Language is a crucial means of communication. Most of us rely on speech as our primary means of interchange.
Words are the tools we use to communicate. How well we communicate depends on the quality of our tools and the precision with which we employ them.
Control comes through our ability to effectively name and convey our needs.
As small children, we are challenged to put words to our physical feelings. We don’t have the experience to tie what our bodies are experiencing to actual terms.
We are unable to distinguish between hunger and thirst or exhaustion and sleepiness and must be taught that bodily urges, such as having a full bladder, can be named, along with what the appropriate behaviour is when the physical sensation is correctly identified.
The deficiency in language and confusion over what to call what our bodies tell us is one of the contributors to the anger and frustration manifested during the “terrible twos.”
Using words well is a hallmark of being a good communicator.
Consider all the great speeches and the world’s great orators. Their words are memorable, evocative, clear, simple, pointed and cannot be misinterpreted.
Their sentences resonate. Listeners hear a common message; it is not possible to mistake the message, or the intent.
When someone tells you they are upset, how easy is it to offer them appropriate comfort or support?
If, on the other hand, they were to say they were disappointed, discouraged or even disenchanted, it would be easier to know how to respond. You would know what questions to ask to quickly find out the specifics of the situation.
The difference between a dissatisfied customer and one who is disgruntled is huge. And making a successful recipe is close to impossible if adding “lots” of a called for ingredient is part of the instructions.
Words should be chosen carefully and used precisely.
Many mistakes have been made, or blamed on poor instructions.
Consider the difference between the directions, “Stop him!” versus “Detain him!” The ubiquitous “Don’t do that!” versus some clear direction of what should, or should not, be done.
Friendships have been severed, families torn apart, organizations have foundered, wars have been ignited because of words.
Words have insulted, wounded, enraged, provoked or baited individuals and rent relationships.
Most of us, as teenagers have cried out “I hate you!” when we mean to convey we are confused, frustrated, scared by the process of coming to adulthood and /or chaffing with resentment at being viewed as a child.
Words are precious. “I’m proud of you.” “I love you”. “You are doing a good job.” You’re a good friend, a good person, a good parent,” are words to be kept and treasured because they validate and value us.
It’s a talent to use the right words, at the right time. It takes mindfulness, time to learn and practice, to consistently get it right.
And our own emotions get in the way.
Having the proper arsenal of words to accurately label our feelings contributes to our own wellbeing.
Call it self-awareness, self-actualization or a heightened state of self-knowledge, however, the better we can define our feelings and express them, the healthier we are.
I recently read an article which suggested that people who can articulate their feelings are much more well-adjusted and resilient that those who have difficulty doing so.
Like the child who gains a measure of control over his or her situation by naming the physical sensations experienced, so for the adult, the ability to most accurately name their feeling or emotion provides the tools to deal with them.
The analogy is a bit strong, however, similar to receiving a medical diagnosis when you’re able to precisely identify and put a name to the sentiments you’re feeling, the more you’re able to understand what might be causing the feeling and the better you are able to address it.
I have learned to respect intuition and “listen to my gut”. Often this starts as a general malaise, or discomfort, which is vague and unpleasant and colours all my experiences at that moment.
By isolating and accurately naming the feeling(s), or the root of the discomfort, be it doubt, concern, fear of failure, mistrust or distrust, an understanding results, which helps provide insight into the source of the feeling and how to deal with it.
Being able to distinguish impatience from frustration, or annoyance from irritation may provide the precision and the cues, to choose how to best determine the root cause and identify strategies to deal with it.
To be able to identify the feeling being experienced as irritation rather than anger may help in identifying the irritant or trigger and indicate a means of dealing with or neutralizing it.
Anger is a far broader, larger and much more vague and general condition, making it more challenging to pinpoint the origin, and thus determine the right strategy to use.
Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Words are precise tools, honed over centuries of use.
And like tools, words can be used as weapons.
Be conscious of the words you choose.
Don’t be lazy, indifferent or careless with such an important and meaningful resource.
Choose your words carefully. Consciously.
Say what you mean, and mean what you say.