I’ve been thinking a lot about words lately. The impact of when we speak too much, too soon, too little, too late or not at all and the significance of the words we choose to communicate our message. Words are guided and influenced by our thoughts, what we say in the quiet of our own mind and through the words we speak out loud.
Our kids offer us a lesson in how they value a message. Have you noticed the way they engage and soak up everything, even when we think they aren’t listening or when we hope they are only taking away the good parts? No pressure. As they filter through the meaning and how it fits in their understanding of the world around them, they hold us accountable, they let us know how we are doing. They learn from how we talk to them, each other and ourselves. I’ve noticed how much they are impacted and influenced by each and every word in the literal interpretation and undertone of each message. The words we choose and how we phrase them dramatically alters what will happen next, leaving little room for undoing. And boy, they always remember–did I really say that?
I suppose an emphasis on words is inevitable parenting small children—the constant correction and redirection that goes on. The words I use when I am disciplining and/or encouraging my kids doesn’t always get the credit they deserve. And then there’s the absence of words I choose not to say or share with them in the moment or those times when I hear myself in them (not always my favorite). The reality is, what we mean to communicate isn’t always the message that gets delivered.
There’s an ongoing struggle with constant distraction of over messaging that pulls us away from the very things we want most, to connect, understand and be understood in a meaningful way. It makes it difficult to be concise and deliver clarity in our message with one another amongst all the noise.
In October, I did a challenge with my staff. The challenge was to successfully complete two handwritten notes a day to someone in their life. It could be a coworker, a significant other, a friend, family, anyone, the message had to be handwritten in a note. Nearly everyone was successful so it was fun to reflect on the experience as a group. I was inspired by the testimonies of how impactful the exercise was for not only the recipients of the cards but for the authors of those who shared their encouraging words with others. For such a small, simple, five-minute daily task, the reward was enormous.
This November, I’m suggesting a slightly different challenge. Sharing gratitude through the language and words we speak to one another. A daily commitment to verbally connect and share gratitude with at least two people we engage with in our life. I think giving and receiving words that are complimentary and encouraging can sometimes be difficult but I also believe the impact is powerful and influential.
What you focus on expands, is something we say a lot around here. I believe when we intentionally nourish our minds with healthy and wholesome thoughts and ideas, it begins to outweigh the distraction of the other garbage around us.
Carefully selecting the words we verbalize in the moment requires more control over our thoughts and a silencing of the noise and distraction around us; this is no small feat. It takes practice. There is so much more we can do in the way of connecting and better communicating what we really mean when we begin thinking more about our words.