There is a reason we all have different names. There is a reason a girl is “My Daughter”, and a boy is “My Son”, and that each term evokes it’s own rush of emotions, concerns, and hopes. What is that reason? Why don’t we remove the gender-specific titles from all of society and refer to our kids and kids or children. Why don’t we call our husbands and wives spouse? Why use the titles Mr. or Mrs. when we could just say neighbor, person, colleague, or teammate? What is the point of the ultrasound tech telling me I’m having a girl and thinking that I will have to beat some punk kid who wants to take her on a date someday? How do I stop myself from the feeling of relief I had when another ultrasound tech told me I was having a boy and I knew I had a partner to beat p my daughter’s future boyfriends.
There is power in the things we say. Politicians have referred to it as Political Correctness and comedians try to exploit terminology under the guise of being provocative. Parents tried using words to shield us from the world, or hide their skeletons n the closet. Our classmates used words to hurt us regardless of our claims that only sticks and stones could do so. There is power in the things we say. There is a reason my wife and I discussed at length the names we wanted to give our children. We have a freedom of speech, to an extent, but do we understand the influence that we exercise when we open our mouths?
As an educator, in a society that honestly does not appreciate the profession, I pick and choose not only WHAT words I say to students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors, but HOW I say them. As someone who understands the power of the things we say to those around us, and to our kids, I can hear the words of parents reiterated through their kids. I can hear the hope, the expectations, the enabling, the ignoring, the encouragement, and the dysfunction. Even at 14 years of age, the words we say deeply impact the kids we are raising. There is power in the things we say.
The Flip Side
How can we utilize that power? Think of any tool… a hammer, a drill, a shovel, etc… Think of how those tools are used for demolition. Think of how those same tools are used to build. Which means is more powerful? One could argue that it takes a lot of power to destroy something, and that is true. However, I would argue that it takes more to build something, and the effect is longer-lasting. Even dynamite destroys, but also helped build tunnels for the railroad system. Think of how many things have been build that have inspired generations of youth to build something else and contribute to this world. Think of a legacy built, and the lives touched by one person who spoke into the lives of those around them and build them up. Consider your words when you are living your life, when you are angry, when you are just surviving, or when you are at the top of your game. Don’t let something slip out that you cannot get back. Real people don’t have the luxury of politicians and celebrities of the excuse that we “misspoke” or that we did not mean what we said, because in reality… There is power in our words.
If you need proof, spend one day complimenting people on something specific to them, and watch their reactions. You don’t have to really mean it, but you do have to say it.
How do you use words to build and encourage your kids, family, friends, and/or coworkers?