Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Wors. Those Slippery Words.

Words have power. Our choice of words influences both our own psyche and the person who hears them. Aware of their power, I try to choose my words precisely; and be aware when my words are trying to trick me.

A common trick I've noticed is the response, "I'll try to get you that by...." or "I'll try to get around to doing that..." Hmm. What do I mean by try? Is my intention to truly put in an honest attempt, or am I using 'try' as a cop-out to avoid or delay the inevitable, "couldn't" or "didn't." What is my intention?

On the flip side, sometimes we need to use words imprecisely. "Could" is a good example. When we ask someone if they "could do" something, often what we're asking is whether they would do something; or perhaps we are actually asking for a specific action. It isn't even a question. In writing email, using 'would' or simply telling someone to do something will probably come across as confrontational. The word 'could' is what we expect.

Some words are slippery, such as 'know.' A while back I noticed that I tended to say "I know that..." when what I really meant was, "I heard that...", or "I read that..." or "I have been told that..." I subsequently worked really hard to retrain my language accordingly. Not only did it make my words more precise, but it also brought about the added effect of raising my awareness around where my information came from and how my worldview is influenced.

Sometimes paying attention to a single word in our speech or writing can provide a lot of insight.