In reading the title of the this post, perhaps you are wondering why I’d bother writing about a topic that may seem obvious to some: the weight and meaning that words carry. It seems like every day we are hearing of more instances that someone’s behavior and/or actions created a feeling of chaos. My goal for this post is to show you how words can also have the opposite effect. I truly believe that for as much as words can hurt and tear someone down, they serve a much better purpose: to teach, soothe and heal. I want to show you how to be intentional with your words.
What does it mean to be intentional with your words?
Intention is about saying what you mean. Have you heard that saying that goes ‘Mean what you say and say what you mean?’ That’s essentially what I’m getting at. Being intentional with your words boils down to articulating your thoughts and feelings using the appropriate words. Here’s an example that many of you may find relatable: how many things do you say that you ‘love’ on a daily basis? Tacos? Your new shoes? I’m guilty of this too and I’m working on it. What do I genuinely love? My fiancee, family, dog and blogging community. What do I say I love that I just really like? Fried Pickles, ‘Friends,’ and donuts. See what I’m getting at?
That’s not to say that you can’t have very strong feels for or about something. Is ‘love’ the right word? What about ‘really like’ or ‘can’t stop thinking about?’ The English language is quite the expansive language filled with many, many words. I challenge you to find at least one new word every day.
Okay, but what does this have to do with people?
Well, I’m glad you asked! Similar to how we describe inanimate objects only wildly more important, how we talk about and to each other matters. A critical component to being successful in communicating with other people is understanding your audience. This of course comes more easily if you are familiar with the person you’re communicating with, but it’s generally a good practice to be as kind with your words as possible.
Are you upset with your best friend and want to talk to them about it? Are you confused and want clarification from a classmate? Before you open your mouth, ask yourself ‘What do I want to say?’ At the heart of being intentional with your words is using the words that convey how you’re feeling while being cognizant of the other person and their feelings. Is your intention to wound the other person or to express your disappointment? Are you trying to talk about a topic that makes the other person uncomfortable? Address that right away.
Does being intentional with your words really matter?
Hell yes. Words have the power to deescalate a potentially very serious argument. Words have the power to mend broken hearts. (Okay, slightly romantic, I know, but you get the idea.) Words can make people smile, laugh, cry, flirt, you name it. So much of our happiness is inadvertently tied to other people and their actions and behavior towards us. Knowing this, why wouldn’t we do more to make a positive impact on other people?
One of my goals is to make sure that people leave interactions with me better than they were initially. Whether that means they leave with a smile or some words of wisdom I learned from a book – it doesn’t matter to me.
How do you want people to feel after an interaction with you?
Ironically, I don’t know that I articulated my thoughts as clearly as I intended. If nothing else, I hope this post begins a dialogue either with me or those around you about being intentional with your words. What does that mean to you? How are you intentional with your words already? Let’s start talking.
What does being intentional with your words mean to you?