I will never forget the simple words I overheard my best friend tell her young son one day. We were having a phone conversation when her little boy came up to her, flustered and frantically attempting to talk to her. I waited on my end of the line while my friend turned her attention to her son and said, “Choose your words. What are you trying to say?” That straightforward phrase has stuck with me ever since.
The reason an expression that seems as ordinary as “choose your words” has had such a profound impact on my life is that it allows me to remember the power of speech. Sometimes we stumble with what we are trying to say because we are being too careful and cannot find the right phrases, or we say things we do not mean because we are not cautious enough. This is why carefully choosing our words is really important, especially since they influence many aspects of our life.
Talking to your boss vs. your family
Here’s a situation where your expressions and tonality might change because of the environment you are in and the person you are talking to. The key is to know your audience. If I am speaking to my sister who I know is a more emotional and dramatic person, I choose my words intentionally with her. I am more sensitive and I speak in a lower tone so she knows I am being empathetic and I can get my point across. However, if I am having a conversation with my boss or co-worker, I keep in mind that I am not as familiar with their communication style as I am with my family. I am more polite, careful and structured when I speak. When you know your audience like the back of your hand, you are conscious of their triggers and how they might react. You can do a vocal dance with your words to convey them in a way that will impact the person the most. But when your conversation partner is more of a stranger, the dance will probably not be a fast-paced, hard-hitting salsa but more of a gentle waltz.
The words you tell yourself are the most important ones you will ever say
You are the main character in your life, so you have to speak to yourself in a way that is beneficial. The mind and body believe what they are told, which is why your words can have a positive or negative impact. If you wake up in the morning and immediately say, “Ugh, I’m tired.” then your whole being decides it is sleepy and unmotivated. Or if you say,
“I’m so busy I don’t have time to eat or sleep.” then you are declaring this is your truth and you begin to feel anxious. Making small changes in how you speak to yourself can transform your mindset and leave you feeling more confident. Replace “If I ever meet the one.” with “When I meet the one.” This is hopeful rather than discouraging. You can coach yourself to have more positive energy before a date or a presentation by saying “I’m so excited!” The words you choose to tell yourself can influence your day and, over time, making these changes in self-talk will create healthier habits for your soul.
Always speak from the heart
The good news about words is that they do not stain or last forever. You have the opportunity to rewrite what you say. However, what you speak should always come from the heart. Surface level statements like “Good job.” from your boss or “You’re the best.” from a friend does not leave as much of an impression as truly heartfelt phrases. If you speak with emotion and the right tonality, it will really resonate. People are smart and can tell when something is genuine or superficial. Understanding that your expressions have power and can make another person’s life better is motivation for speaking with purpose and meaning.
Choosing your words can go a long way and it is something I remind myself to do every day. This three-word phrase carries a lot of weight and you can use it to your advantage. Remember to speak with your audience in mind, be uplifting and make meaningful statements. By choosing words with specific intention your life and relationships will be transformed.