Words are powerful

Words are powerful so choose them carefully.

 “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a popular childhood phrase that in reality is not true. Words have the ability to hurt sometimes more deeply and have an everlasting affect. Poet Maya Angelou stated that “words have the ability to go into the body. They can cause us to be hopeful and happy and high-energy and wondrous and funny and cheerful. Or they can cause us to be depressed. They get into the body and cause us to be sullen and sour and depressed and finally, sick.”

Humans have the ability to make complex, multiple choices, and one choice that is overlooked that could make the most positive difference in the world is the choice of words we use to communicate. The human race has a craving to be valued and treasured. Michigan State University Extension says that if the words we use is a choice, then we should be choosing words that sustain our important relationships and make our significant others feel as if they count. Author William James points out that there are five practical A’s that can help:

Attention: Pay attention to the other person and their needs and to the opportunities we have to say something uplifting and kind.

Appreciation: Say “thank you” more often even those things we’ve grown accustomed to receiving from our loved ones.

Ask: Ask about activities, plans, hopes, joys and concerns of the other person. Ask what you can do to help them achieve these.

Affection: Use terms of affection

Affirm: Acknowledge, build-up, and encourage as a cheerleader.

Words are a choice, as well as the tone of voice we use to communicate the feeling behind them. Thirty to 40 percent of our verbal communication is made through tone of voice. Voice inflection is what gives our words meaning. Tone is one of the most important ingredients of effective communication. Tone communicates empathy. When we are able to put ourselves in the place of those we are talking to, we are far more likely to make a good connection.

Effective communication starts before one opens their mouth to speak. Our bodies express more than half of what we have to say. Use of facial expressions, posture and how we use our hands speaks volumes. Touch is the other factor that leads to effective communication. Alan Loy McGinnis, author and family therapist, says “more than half a million sensory fibers flow from the skin through the spinal cord to the brain. As a system, it is the most important organ in the body.” This is why gentle touch is part of therapy. It can stimulate people. McGinnis adds that “when it is a genuine expression of your affection, touch can bring you closer to another than can thousands of words.”

Who could benefit from some kind words, soft tone and gentle touch?

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