Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Power of Words

On my mind today is the power behind words. Words can do three things. They can lift us up, pull us down or leave things exactly where they are. Words are powerful because they create a dialogue that conveys more than just thoughts. Words can convey emotion.

I have long struggled with finding a balance using words. I tend to be socially awkward at times because of how much I talk. Talking is a natural gift I have. Some might say I even love the sound of my own voice. But really it stems from my own fear of silence. Put me in a room with a bunch of strangers and I will find anything to talk about because I get uncomfortable with silence. My need to keep the conversation flowing usually ends in me saying something I didn't think all the way through.

Sometimes my ability to talk is a great thing, because it creates good dialogue and meaningful conversations. It maybe even gets a few laughs. Many friendships of mine started with me simply offering up something to discuss or laugh about.

However, this tendency to speak before thinking can really get me into trouble. I often contribute too much to a coversation and forget to listen. Even worse, I might say something without even considering that it has the potential to be offensive or possibly hurtful in nature to someone I love. I also tend to not respect the importance of silence.

A while back I stumbled upon T.H.I.N.K. It stands for:
Is it true?
Is it helpful?
Is it inspiring?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?

When I find myself talking I really try to live by these. My goal is to only let my words lift and encourage others. For me that is not a simple thing. It means recognizing the feelings of someone else and putting them before my own desires or feelings. It means holding back sometimes what I really feel or think. Take "Is it true?" For example.  Telling it like it is doesn't always help and often times is more hurtful than kind.

To truly think of others I must balance these values. The absence of words is just as powerful as the most elegant choice of words. The right words or lack of words are powerful because they convey empathy and thoughtfulness. Words help us find shared ground and understand each other better. Words are powerful. When we T.H.I.N.K. we can use that power for good.

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