I have been thinking lately about words and how they fit into our world of communication. My 24-year-old son, Sean, tells me I need a college course in texting so he can make sense of what I’m trying to say when I speak with my fingers. On self-examination—and the evidence before me—I have to plead guilty as charged.
I have had numerous people tell me they don’t understand my email. It has been pointed out to me, mostly by my editor, that I have a “Joe Dunne mind speak” when I hastily shoot out emails. Again, guilty.
Words are shared in so many forms these days: texting, emails, Twitter, Facebook and so much more, but how clear are we? What we say, what we wanted to say and what we actually mean is a complicated maze. We even have interpretive text now. For example, using all caps means “shouting,” which I didn’t know until someone told me. Listening is endlessly complicated. Whatever we hear is interpreted through a personal “tone, age, life experience” filter. The maze of being clear, and choosing the right words when we deliver communications, is a college course for an advanced degree!
The power of words is the point here. We all think we’re being clear, and sometimes we are, but listening often gets blocked because we’re all too busy thinking of what we want to say rather than listening with complete attention, clear of our own thoughts. Not an easy task, and again, I must admit guilt.
But here is the life lesson for me—the power of words lies in the fact that they can’t be taken back. That quick blast in anger, frustration or in the heat of the moment cannot be withdrawn. This lesson has stayed with me over my lifetime. The power of our words is immeasurable.
Wars have started over words. Relationships have been destroyed, not necessarily by intention, but by the wrong choice of words. The power of our spoken word also contains a vibration. To a callous person, harsh words may not offend, but to a sensitive or fragile person, they are cutting. And words of hope can literally mean the difference between life or death for someone hanging by a thread in their world.
Choosing our words matters. For me, I will continue to spend a lot of time meditating, thinking and slowing down to make my communication a little bit clearer and take into account the person on the other side of my words.
In peace, love and laughter,
Joe Dunne, Publisher