By: John Wittry
I was in a meeting with a room full of leaders recently and was once again struck by the importance of language and how words really do matter. During a somewhat charged conversation, there was a statement made that “we need to be careful about what we say”. I jotted down a note to myself that it is important that we not be “careful” about what we say. While I understand the intention behind the comment, there is a nuance that I believe to be important.
I think we need to be conscious about what we say. I think we need to be responsible for what we say. I think we need to be accountable for what we say. Being careful about what we say can be misconstrued. There is a connotation of fear behind that particular statement. There is an implication that by being “careful about what we say” we are at some level holding back. Being careful can have us worrying about how it will be perceived, received, judged and/or construed. Often times this can have us holding back which can unnecessarily limit the conversation and keep us from important outcomes.
When we come from a place of being conscious, responsible and accountable for our words, it creates a framework for powerful communication. Many times, coming from this place has us slow down and think through our communication. Sometimes that slowing down is minutes, hours, days or weeks but more frequently and with practice, it can be just seconds. Long enough to ensure consciousness. This is a classic example of slowing down to speed up.
Our words have impact. As human beings, we are powerful and much of our power is expressed in words. Words bring life or death and they should be chosen consciously. Many fires have been ignited and flames fanned through unconscious, irresponsible and unaccountable communication. Putting those fires out takes significant time and energy if in fact they ever are truly squelched.
Where do you want to be more conscious, responsible and accountable in your communication? What is the automatic, recurring dialog that is causing death instead of life? What are you saying to yourself, your spouse, those you love, those you work with and those you are in relationship that is causing death instead of life. Today, be conscious of your words.