“We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.” Sir Winston Churchill
Words have always been an important part of my life perhaps because growing up in a family of artists, humanitarians and politicians, words and the power they carry are part of my genetic fiber. If words and their use were important to me before, recent worldwide events have shown us the power they yield and even more so are the layers that they create. It is in those layers, created and loaded with emotional triggers, that I believe the seeds for conflict, positive and negative, take root. It depends on how the seeds are nurtured that the resulting tree will grow strong and tall, or collapse during its first storm.
I just used words in a sentence that provide a visual effect, and if you read it silently you’ll experience something different than if you read them out loud. The first thing we hear is ‘how’ something is said, that leads to an immediate emotional reaction. Then we focus on ‘what’ is actually being said; however, we are already formulating a thought based on our initial organic reaction to the ‘how’. Important as well is ‘when’ something is said, it’s all about the timing. Are we totally engaged and listening, or because of a distraction are we only hearing part of the message? Are we responding to full sentences or just sound bites? Precisely because ‘sound bites’ have become an important component to how news is shared, the specific use of words is crucial. How we define an event or to whom we apply responsibility for that event, when using sound bites can completely change a perception or reality. So the next time you hear or read something that rocks you to the core…take a moment before you pass it on. What is the message you received, why are you passing it on, and most important what will be the end result?
Crystina Wyler is President of The Artful Communicator, a firm providing creative methods to facilitate communication and transform conflict.