January 2012

The Power of Words

Words are powerful things.  

You can spend hours reading famous quotations affirming that fact—from founders of the world’s great religions…to history-making leaders…to profoundly influential authors…to the anonymous wisdom of proverbs. (I recommend doing that, by the way—it’s extremely thought-provoking!)

In sum, there’s no lack of evidence that words have an unparalleled capacity both to wound and to heal.

And yet, when it comes to the words we ourselves say, we seem to have an abysmal knack for forgetting that.  

Some of us haul off verbally at other people when we’re stressed, telling ourselves that they won’t take it personally—that we’re just “letting off steam.”  

Others don’t bother to say the things we should, “Thank you” being the most prominent example.  

And still others of us do think to express our appreciation, but assume it’s just a trivial gesture—not realizing that a sincere grateful word can put a smile on a colleague’s face all the way home, and even for days to come.

To put it another way, you might easily forget the things you’ve said (or not said), but the chances are very high that the other person won’t

Words of kindness reverberate as if in a hall of mirrors, and so do those that hurt. I think it’s profoundly important, in our daily exchanges with each other, that we all remember that.