Used wisely, they spark many emotions in a person, including make someone smile, laugh, feel loved, create a sense of safety, or build esteem. Used irresponsibly, words can do serious damage to another. They can cause hurt feelings, create doubt, instill instability, bring on feelings of worthlessness, and create sorrow to name a few.
There are people who intentionally use words as a weapon, and others who are simply thoughtless in their communication. One is cruel, the other irresponsible, but both are wrong. Everyone has a responsibility to exercise self control when speaking and writing, but so few take this duty seriously. It’s sad and frustrating to witness the hurtful updates on Facebook, vitriolic posts written, and hateful arguments that occur. While trying to sway people who choose to be hurtful with words is probably a futile effort, maybe attempting to reach those who speak and publish words carelessly is possible.
In freshman year of college, sitting in a communications class, a professor uttered a sentence that has stayed with me:
“Communication cannot be undone.”
When making a hateful comment to another, writing a rude, thoughtless post on Facebook, or publishing a hate-filled piece about another, it can’t be erased; it remains seared in the mind of those hurt and others who were witness to it. Saying sorry for the words or deleting the writing can’t undo the damage already done.
As for the public forum in which people choose to write hateful, snide, or thoughtless comments directed towards others, it hurts the intended recipient and the reputation of the person who made it. It is more revealing of the character of the one communicating than the person being slighted publicly. It seems obvious, and yet so many seem oblivious to this.
My one wish for people in 2013 is a simple one; it’s something I have been teaching my children from the time they were toddlers:
“Use kind words.”
It’s really that simple. Use words to compliment, build people up, help restore faith in someone struggling, to praise, thank, and acknowledge great qualities. Heeding this advice would lead to so much more happiness in the world–including those choosing to build people up instead of tearing them down.
As we all start off the first Monday in 2013, here’s a little inspiration. This is a wonderful video called, “Say Something Nice.”