Sandra Ford Walston writes a beautiful article on the Power of Language in our July issue, which will be out soon. She argues that we need to take responsibility for how our language affects others.
The power of language
It is true that words have a huge impact, even if we tend to place more emphasis on what people do instead. Taking responsibility for the language we use is a very good thing to aim for. How easy it is for us to mouth off or to just click send on that email. In the always-on, almost instantaneous world we live in, it’s so much easier now to click, to send, to take action, to pass on information, to give people feedback. What could have taken up a day or two before, or what might have caused us to take a more considered view, now takes place literally in seconds. What kind of impact do you think that holds for us and those around us?
These new communication channels have made an impact on how we make decisions on our relationships and our communication. It’s also much easier in this environment to pass the buck, simply not take responsibility, blame the environment or whatever else is handy. Take cellphone use for example. How many of us, myself included, allow ourselves to be late to a meeting, simply because we have a cellphone on us? The ability to make a phone call on the go or drop a text message makes it so much easier to bend the rules. I am not saying that’s right; by all accounts, its not. If we had no cell phone, might the fact that we can’t communicate on the go mean we stick to our word?
Sandra drives the point about responsibility pointedly. Yes, we do need to take responsibility. We have a choice as to what we say and more importantly, how we say it. More often that not, the presentation of information has unprecedented impact on how the information is perceived, interpreted and made sense of. Words do influence us.