The Impact of Words

Something has been in the back of my mind for a while.  It’s about the words that people say.  Words are funny things – they have different meanings depending on tone, different meanings depending on who says them, different meanings based on where the recipient is in their head.  What sounds perfectly reasonable to one person is completely irrational to someone else.  Is that right?  Not necessarily.  A speaker can’t be responsible for controlling where the recipient is in their head, but a speaker can be cognizant of the words they use and how they could be received.  On the flip side, a recipient may need to consider the underlying message or thought behind the words.  It’s up to both parties to be aware.

(from Pinterest)

(from Pinterest)

Words spoken in anger or disappointment can hurt – even if that’s not the intention.  Words spoken with the wrong tone can hurt.  Even words said sweetly can hurt if the words themselves aren’t right.  Words spoken with contradictory actions leave the recipient wondering what is true.  Actions speak louder than words, but actions are diminished if the words don’t match.

One of the things I am working on this year is patience.  For those who know me, patience is not one of my strengths.  I tend to want things done immediately and to the highest standard possible.  This is difficult for me to convey without being frustrated when things don’t happen the way I want them to.  Working on this is going to be a struggle – I know this.  Add in a busy schedule, two little kids with busy schedules, as well as the number of distractions that are in today’s society and you can see that being patient is larger than just taking the time to breathe or count to 10 or relax.

I am trying to be patient with my words and actions.  I am trying to consider the impact that my word choice and tone has on others.  I’m trying to pause in important conversations to seek the truly right word or phrase.  Too often, I speak before I think – or rather, I’ve thought, but my brain has moved on to the next thing and my mouth is trying to catch up.

I’m also trying to make sure my words and actions match.  I don’t want to send contradictory messages.  If I say I am going to do something, I’m going to do it.  I don’t want to over-commit, but I want to make sure I follow through on those things I have agreed to.

It’s daunting to think that the words you speak (or write) can influence more than just yourself.  Those words travel throughout time and space to impact those around you or those you don’t even know.  Take the time to consider your words.  I know I will.

“Hook Line and Sinker” by Susan May Warren

This is a sweet story of how a misunderstanding can influence later actions.  Ross and Abby have been friends for years, despite a several year age difference.  There have been romantic feelings on both sides, but other than one kiss, nothing was ever “formalized”.  Abby and Ross’ older brother Scott were at the same college, and since they hung out together so much, everyone assumed that they were a couple.  That misunderstanding led to college gossip getting back to Ross. 

When Scott died, everyone’s understanding was that Abby was the grieving girlfriend.  However, Abby was the grieving girl friend.  Ross, already hurt by the assumption that Abby was Scott’s girlfriend, lashed out at her regarding their relationship.  This caused a rift between Ross and Abby that ordinary interaction cannot resolve.

All of this occurs while Ross is a senior in college and Abby is finishing her graduate studies.  As a final end-of-semester fling, their respective youth groups enter a fishing contest in Deep Haven.  Nothing brings out the best of people like a little competition, right? 

As the story progresses, the reader gets a glimpse into their past, and how thoughtless comments by others, as well as Ross and Abby in moments of pain can harm people.  The depth of their hurt is seen in their interactions with each other.  As the reader, I wanted them to just talk to each other, instead of avoiding each other or making sarcastic comments to each other. 

I haven’t read the other books in the Deep Haven series, so I don’t know how this novella fits in.   I didn’t feel as though I was missing anything by not reading the other stories.  I may pick the series up, but only if I know these characters are involved.

Amazon Product Page

I received an free copy of this book from the publisher using the NetGalley system. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

No Complaining? Sign Me Up!

I need this sign some days.

Daniel Decker’s blog post about no complaining in the office has me thinking  about how much I complain and how much I hear various people complain.  Of course this is not limited to the office.  It’s at home, while out running errands, while visiting others, everywhere.

What makes it worse is when the complaining is partnered with either the whiny voice, the martyr voice, or the self-righteous voice.  All of which are equally bad, but the whiny voice drives me up the wall (just ask my daughters!).

Why do people complain?  Maybe because they want to tell someone about how they were wronged (or how they wronged someone else); maybe because something is not quite right in their life; maybe they just want to talk to someone and complaining is the only way they know to get someone to listen.

The problem is that complaining for the sake of complaining is just not productive.  How many hours do you lose over the course of a month listening to a co-worker complain about something that you could either do nothing about, or something that if they would actually do their job there wouldn’t be an issue?  Or better yet, if they would use the time to fix the problem that they spent complaining, the problem would be gone?  Time spent complaining is less time that you have to work, less time you have with your family, less time you have doing the things that mean something to you.  Of course the reverse is true.  The time you spend complaining keeps you from fixing the problem as well and being a productive employee.

I know you can’t police everyone’s speech.  It’s not fair and it’s not right.  However, you can monitor your own.  This isn’t to say you have to be Miss Mary Sunshine all the time, but at least think about what is coming out of your mouth.  Think about the time you are spending complaining.  Think about how you may be keeping others from doing something they want/need to do.

Does your office need a no complaining rule?  Maybe, if the complaining is out of control and it has manage to infect every area of your business.  But I think it can be dealt with on a person by person basis if people would just be more conscious of what they are doing.  I am going to try and do my part by watching how much I complain.

Thoughts?  How can you reduce the amount of complaining you do or that others do to you?

See Daniel’s original post here: http://www.danieldecker.net/does-your-office-need-a-no-complaining-rule/

Communication – What’s Really Being Said?

I have been looking at a lot of things lately.  One of them is the blog written by Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs of Love and Respect.  They had a post recently called “What’s the Alternative to Love and Respect?” (http://emersonandsarah.blogspot.com/2011/08/whats-alternative-to-love-and-respect.html) that struck home for me.   I haven’t read their book yet (it’s on my list once I get through some others), so I don’t know the whole story of how their ministry started and how they reached the truths that they speak about. But I thought this topic was important.

In their post, they talk about how spouses need to speak with love and respect to each other and how even the simplest solutions sometimes can solve many problems.  Too often, I think that when a couple is stressed with their partner, they don’t look beyond the surface issues.  The example in the Eggerichs’ post is a couple sitting down to do their monthly budget, and thinking that if they solve their financial problems, it will take care of everything else.   They say to themselves, “If we only had our money issues solved, I would be happier with him/her and our marriage would be back on track.”  To them, that is the simple solution.  They think the relationship will take care of itself.  However, that is not the case.

I’m not an expert and I haven’t had a perfect marriage.  We have gone through our rough times – times I never want to go through again.  When faced with a difficult time, it’s often crossed our minds that if we had enough money, had a different job, had kids, lived closer to family, whatever, all of our problems would be solved.  But then we look deeper.  The problem isn’t that we had money problems or were stressed with our jobs, it was that we weren’t communicating the right way.

Communicating means more than just asking your partner how their day went.  It means listening to what they are saying.  Do you hear the hurt, the disgust, the yearning for someone to truly listen to them?  Often what they are speaking isn’t anything like what they are saying.  Are they telling you the whole story, or are they holding things back because they don’t want to burden/stress/bother you?  Do they think you won’t be interested in what they have to say?

I have found myself on both sides of the coin.  Neither side is fun, especially since it tends to affect my attitude for the next little bit.  If only I took more care in communicating with my spouse, he would understand that I respect and honor him.  Life and relationships are already hard enough in today’s society.  While it’s not easy to always do the right thing, isn’t it the most important thing you can do?