18 April 2011

One statement at a time

When going through one's day, they rarely think about the impact of the words they are saying, and often times, they say the wrong thing, speak too quickly, or stumble over their words. In fact, that's something that's hard to avoid, even for those who are quick thinking on their feet, everyone becomes speechless, even if only for a short time, at one point or another in their life.

I am especially prone to this. I'm also a bit obsessive, so when I am writing or typing something, it will take me twice as long as it should, because when I read over it, I feel like I need to fix my grammar and syntax. I'm always so focused on this, every time I write something, that sometimes I actually forget what I'm talking about, and I have to read and re-read what has been said.

There's also the fact that whatever is said online is open for interpretation- and interpretation is hard online, when there is no body language or affect to connect the words with. Online communication is probably the toughest form of communication that exists, because not only do you have to convey thoughts, but you have to include context so that people will understand what you are saying, without taking offence to your words. THAT has happened to me recently. I texted a status to facebook- and it was grossly misinterpreted, leading to an (online) fight....which upset me very much, as I am extremely non-confrontational.

I don't remember where I found this video, but this video really made me think of the power of words, and the way we phrase things. It is really quite lovely how the rephrasing of something so simple can make such a significant difference.

 I just wonder how many other people really take the time to sit down and think about the connotation, not just the denotation, of the words they express every day. I know it's difficult to do in every day conversations, and I've made many mistakes myself, when trying to say something. I have a hard time communicating and coming up with the words I need to say when it comes to verbal communication. Writing, I seem to do an adequate job most of the time. I have little confidence in my writing, but with the feedback I get, I can't just say I'm a bad writer- that would be in bad taste.

Childhood is a time when anything and everything that is said has a huge impact. Because children aren't fully cognitively developed, they don't understand the world the way that we do yet. Additionally, believe it or not, some of them have impeccable memories when it comes to what has been said. Perhaps this has something to do with the extra thinking that they have to do to insert themselves into adult conversation, or perhaps it's just that they have a better memory. In my short time as an intern, I've learned about the impact just a small phrase or slip-up can make a difference. No, I've not sent anyone out of the office crying, but I've probably said some things that made the clients angry with me, or has made them think I really have no clue what I'm doing. I also know there are times when I sit in dead silence while trying to come up with what to say- while I am trying to counsel (under supervision), I have to make sure I'm saying the right things, that I don't set a client off, make them angry, or trigger them in any way. I am very aware of everything that I say in there. I think things through, and sometimes I actually set up a counseling agenda- just in case I run out of things to talk about.

Right now, I am extremely nervous, because I will be going in tomorrow to lead a supervised group. I've twice done this before, and while the clients actually liked the topics that I brought up, I'm still apprehensive about being the leader of a group- I'm more of a one-on-one, individual, or follower type. Not quite a leader.

Add to this the upcoming presentation for my social work class, and I'm practically shaking just thinking about it. What am I going to say? Am I going to forget what I'm talking about (in either situation)? Am I going to stumble over words, or have huge lapses in conversation because I'm not one that does well in conversation, especially when I'm being judged (class presentation, specifically)? When there is so much pressure on me, I tend to think about it for hours...rather, days on end. My social work presentation is still a week away. On this presentation, I must score rather high- near perfect- to keep my A in the class, otherwise, I'll drop into the B range. I know that's not a complete disaster, but the fact that I've worked so hard, and that my grade is riding on an oral presentation, has made me a disaster.

Back to topic- the power of words. Do you know how much one, ONE, remark can affect a person? This is even stronger when the person has a low self-esteem. I can personally attest to the power of words- when someone compliments me, even if I don't believe it at the moment, and even if I have a hard time accepting it, it is quite elating to know that someone actually believes something positive about me. It can completely change my demeanour, and completely change the direction of my day. Sometimes it will lift me for even longer than a day if someone has something positive to say.

When negative things are said, though, it can take my day in a completely different direction. At times, I'll focus on the negative remark for so long that I lose track of what I'm doing. I'll drop things and stumble, I'll get lost and daydream, contemplating the meaning and impact of the negative words, and I take it completely inside. Even if it's not meant to be a personal affront, I tend to get pretty upset when people insult me.

After this "thinking" period, I tend to try to compensate for my negative attributes, and often overcompensate. I'll spend so much time trying to change the way people look at me, and so much time trying to make things right, that sometimes I'll neglect important things in order to rectify the situation with the negative comment, even if it's smaller. The one negative thing sometimes becomes my priority, and something that I can't seem to take my mind off of. I don't know if this is the case with everyone, but I do know that, when placed the right way, a sentence with the same meaning can have completely different connotations, and these connotations can completely change a person's day- for the better, or for the worse.

What type of person are you? Do you think your words through? Are you spontaneous and sometimes insulting on accident? Think about the words you say every day. Think about your communication with colleagues, clients (if working with the public), family, friends. And next time you slip and say the wrong thing, or come close to it, think about how it'll affect the other person. In the video, a simple change in wording was enough to change the temperament of not only the man, after he found out how the woman had helped him, but also the temperament of those around him, those who walked past, and it was a beautiful thing. We need more people like this in the world, people who can shed the positive light on things, people who can make language a beautiful thing, a thing that completely changes not only a situation, but a person's entire day. We all affect each other- let's try to make it a positive effect that we are having. After all, you'd rather have people say positive things about you, right? We can change the world, one statement at a time.

1 comment:

MultipleMum said...

I have a terrible case of foot in mouth disease! This is a powerful reminder that I can do better. Just think before you speak! Thanks for Rewinding x

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