There has been a lot of talk these past few weeks on social media about “words”. In particular how we communicate with our words in this new century with texts, emails, instant messages, and social media. Believe it or not, checking email too frequently has been classified as an “impulsive-compulsive” disorder by psychiatrists.
The article above caused me to really reflect on the power of our words and how we use them in this modern culture. If you are a spiritual person, you are very familiar with the scripture that says, “The Power of life and death is in your words” (Proverbs 18:21). I could not agree more.The challenge for us living in a high-tech, instant communication world is how do we honor the need to connect verbally with those we love and work with, but do so in a way that does not damage, destroy, or decimate our values, our respect for other’s feelings, and our relationships. Our words can wound or they can warm. Our words can heal or they can hurt. Our words can build or they can tear down. Our words can empower or they can diminish.
The power of life, and our destiny are truly found in the words we speak and the words we write, and the words we allow others to speak to and over us. Guard your heart, it is a wellspring of life. Your heart is directly tied to your thoughts and your words. So make a conscious decision in 2013 to be a guardian of your words, and how you use them in any forum or context. Trust me, it will literally save your life.
I have a few practical suggestions I’d like to offer (as well as some hard life lessons learned) that I think can help us all to do better in this regard. I often share these in my corporate workshops that I offer to the Fortune 500 companies I work with and I get a lot of positive feedback.
1. In professional settings angry words, irate emails, disruptive reply to alls, or aggressive voice mails can, and will, be shared, stored, and possibly used against you. As such, make a conscious effort to have a valued friend or mentor read all correspondence you draft before it goes out. Particularly if you are upset, feeling attacked, marginalized or discriminated against. Draft an email but do not send it at least for 24 hours or more.
2. You must exercise self-control in relational settings. This is critical. STOP and remember that these are the people you love and value. You want to keep them in your life. Don’t let a moment’s anger or hurt ruin a great friendship, sister friendship, or a marriage. It is not worth it. Cool off and use your words to express, confirm, and calm the situation.
3. Let’s get back to basics. Get up, walk out of your office ask that colleague to grab a cup of coffee and talk face to face. The same in your interpersonal relationships. Learn to talk face to face. Stop emailing, texting, or Instant messaging your fears, hurts, problems, and issues with people. Learn to TALK to your fellow human being.
4. On social media, venting about our personal hurts is unwise. I have done it and it is not good. Even if you do so in a way of teaching, inspiring or motivating. It is wrong to lament about another person on social forums, even if you protect their identity. Talk to them direct. Or talk to people who will help you work through your emotions constructively. Learn to TALK it out.
5. Words last forever. Particularly in writing. Be careful and choose your words wisely. You cannot take words back once you hit send or tweet. Have a social media, email, texting accountability partner. Understand that NOTHING we do or say now is ever private anymore. Ever. If you can grasp this fact you will do well.
Sophia A. Nelson is an Essence.com contributor, an award winning author, and inspirational/motivational speaker for Fortune 500 corporations, colleges, churches and national organizations. Her newly re-released, revised Trade Paperback book Black Woman Redefined is available in stores now. You can join Sophia’s power-up daily chats via audio & Twitter under the hashtag #ReadySetRedefine2013