Photo courtesy of StockSnap.io taken by Jakub Rostkowski (CCO License)
How often do you listen to yourself when you speak? Not just hear your own voice but actually listen to the words that you use.
Do you carefully choose the words you use? This can be in ordinary conversations, debates, heated arguments or even in the way you describe yourself.
I struggle to choose my words wisely. I speak freely and sometimes I fail to properly convey what I am trying to say. It’s something I am actively trying to work on which is why I am writing about it.
The language you use to describe your thoughts, feelings, circumstances and experiences can ignite certain emotions in yourself and others. These emotions range in the spectrum of positive and negative.
In certain cases it can be quite damaging and toxic (overly negative) or delusional or blinding (overly positive) to a work environment. Therefore, it’s important to consider the affects the words you use have on yourself and others.
Emotion reacts to language. So be careful what you say to others. Be even more careful what you say to yourself.— Tim Kight (@TimothyKight) November 16, 2016
…But the human tongue is a beast that few can master. It strains constantly to break out of its cage, and if it is not tamed, it will run wild and cause you grief. ~ Unknown
As I have been experiencing Imposter Syndrome I came to realize that I have a voice inside my head, and that voice can be really mean. It sometimes puts me down and I believe it.
It’s like having the voice of Marvin the robot from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy inside my head - only less funny.
When I first spoke about my experiences of Imposter Syndrome I used absolute language to describe it.
When we use terms like always, never, everyone, no one, constantly, none, anything, everything, nothing and so forth, we describe things that have no exceptions. That’s simply the way it is.
- There is no …
- Everyone is …
- No one is …
- They always …
- We are constantly …
We are probably just trying to convey the intensity of the thing that we are describing through the usage of absolute language because that is how we are feeling at the time.
But what is the reality really? Do we take the time to pause and logically think it through - or are we driven by an emotional response at that time? We are human though after all.
Things are rarely absolute and if we get sucked into the abyss of speaking in absolutes, we are blinded by contradicting truths. Not only do we believe what we say but we affect the perception of others too.
Be careful with your words. Once they are said, they can be only forgiven, not forgotten. ~ Unknown
When you wake up in a bad mood, have you noticed how the universe continues to throw curve balls your way? Negative events compound throughout the day which simply fuels to your building frustrations until you burst at the seams.
When you wake up in an exceptionally good mood, have you noticed how you let certain negative things that happen to you slip by without hindering on it?
Have you ever been in a meeting where you noticed two polar opposite effects? Some people found the meeting super productive while some people found the meeting a complete waste of time? While others found the meeting just okay?
Have you become more attuned to what that one person has kept telling you and made a concrete case to support their hypotheses?
When you are in a particular mood or mindset, you are most likely more sensitive to things surrounding that mood or mindset - a sense of confirmation bias.
The tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities. ~ Wikipedia on Confirmation Bias
Ask yourself, “is it really as bleak and negative as I believe it to be?” In the same light, “is it really as positive and awesome as it seems?”
From what perspective are you describing this thing? Have you questioned or scrutinized the thing you are talking about? Are you influenced by how you are currently feeling? Should you wait a bit before you passionately talk about it?
I don’t think anything is ever black and white. Surely there is a gray area to most of the things we perceive.
How will you describe this thing if you were in a different mood such as happier or more content?
What you feel today is not necessarily how you will feel tomorrow. Words can damage relationships and the perspective of yourself.
That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it. It just means that you need to be conscious of the vocabulary used to convey the message in your current stete of mind.
Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you, may stick with someone else for a lifetime. ~ Rachel Wolchin
Do you have enough information to make the conclusions that you are making right now? Is there a bigger part of the picture that you are not exposed to or not seeing in your current state of mind?
Be aware of making absolute conclusions and sticking to them when you aren’t aware of the bigger picture. Your perspective should be variable to the information you gather from this bigger picture over time.
Let that reflect in the words that you use.
Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs. ~ Pearl Strachan Hurd
My final thoughts
I fall victim to using absolute language, my words reflect my current state of mind and I am not always aware of the bigger picture.
When I am negative my tone tends to be negative and the same goes for positive.
Now that I am conscious of it, I can try my best to influence the way I speak. Not only will this have an impact on those around me but it will affect the way I perceive myself.
I believe that this is essential for the culture within an organization and how you perceive yourself. Negativity is toxic and can spread like a virus.
Be conscious of the words you use to explain your thoughts, feelings, circumstances and experiences. If you get it wrong, don’t be hard on yourself and don’t ground yourself on the beliefs you speak of. Let them be variable while you keep building that bigger picture.
- 26 Brilliant Quotes on the Super Power of Words from Inc.com
- 3 Reasons Why We Should Be Careful When Using Absolutes from MTN Universal