The Importance of Words and How We Use Them

We communicate in a variety of different ways - words, actions, signs, silence, body language, - all communication is important to us. Yet it appears to be the spoken and written word that is crucial across so many cultures, the emphasis of both is so much more powerful, especially with the advent of the digital age. Whether through a video message or twitter feed, words can create havoc, despair, dialogue, laughter and start trends. Even though the old adage states that actions are stronger than words, “The pen and the written word wield a great deal of power.”

Whilst, the written word does not provide the reader with “tone of voice”, “facial expressions” and “body language”, the verbal does. As someone is speaking you can see the hand patterns, the gestures, the tilt of the head, the smile or frown, the hand gestures, the body movements; you can hear the tone of voice, expression and emphasis made on words to highlight importance, sadness, fear, joy or anger. Pay attention to the tone used over the phone - anyone listening can tell if you are smiling or having a bad day even if they can’t see your face.

Attention to detail where words are concerned is extremely important, not only on a personal level but mores on a personal level. Advertisements can be misconstrued or misleading if the wrong words are used - the consumer is told one thing but may in fact expect another. Verbal promises and contracts result in things being “Lost in Translation”, that’s why it’s so important to follow up whatever has been said in writing. But even the written word can trip us up. Reliance on spell check is a burden as even some incorrectly-spelled words and grammatical errors are sometimes missed. Unfortunately, most still struggle to spot homophones (those annoying words that sound the same, but have different meanings) when they’re spelt entirely correctly, for example, Paw, Poor, Pore and Pour. .What we write can be misconstrued if we use the wrong spelling for the same sounding words and the context is unclear.

Word blindness as we spend hours writing and re-writing even the simplest of things, can cause problems in itself, so it’s often best to have a second person proofread important documents. Or failing that, take a break and go back to the document with fresh eyes.

Business owners, mentors, coaches, leaders, teachers, all understand that the words we speak and write carries a lot of weight and has a lot of impact so don’t underestimate how powerful they actually are. In a world where every element of an adult life is bound by contracts, it is truly important to get a feel for what the words on the paper you sign or the promises you hear actually mean, because although words can be cheap.

"No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world." - John Keating.