“Use your words.” I hear this phrase often from parents who are teaching their little ones to be more articulate, to use—and more importantly choose—their words in order to clearly communicate their thoughts to others. This simple idea holds within it quite profound lessons; not only does it teach us the importance of showing discernment when communicating, it is a testament to the power we all hold in one of our greatest tools: our voice.
Written or spoken, our words and voice are a major influencing factor in the lives of those around us. What we say can change the way someone thinks, feels, or acts, impacting their lives forever. This is no small deal! Let’s recognize this and choose to use the power of our voice to benefit the lives of others. Not only will we improve our relationships to those close to us, we can positively affect countless others in this world.
This can be done in both large and small gestures throughout your day. One great place to start is through the act of appreciation. Acknowledge those around you who make your life easier or better in any way, and thank them. Whether it’s said out loud or written in a note, genuine gratitude shows clear love and respect for another. Extend this kindness to others as well, saying “thank you” to a stranger who helped you or speaking up when someone is in need.
Remember that the tone and texture of our words, how we say something, is just as important as what we say. Tone enables us to feel the underlying current of intention behind the words, so choose your tone carefully; let it reflect your best self’s intentions. “Using your words” then becomes a daily offering of kindness and compassion, and gives our voice clarity empowered by discernment.
- Practice appreciation. Recognize those in your life whom you are thankful for and let them know! Call them, meet for coffee, or write a handwritten letter instead of an e-mail. For those close to you, leave little thank-you/love notes around the house or put some in surprising places for them to find later. Small acts of kindness can bring a lot of joy to someone’s day.
- Manners do matter. “Please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” go a long way in communicating with people we don’t know. Use manners when you need to address strangers in your day (on the train, in line, etc.) and you’ll find a lot more people willing to be nice back. Also, don’t be afraid to save people from embarrassment! Maybe they sat in gum or their dress is unknowingly lifted in the back—be brave and say something discreetly. More often than not, that person will greatly appreciate it.
- Take time to find the right words. Having a tough time? Take ninety seconds to breathe, and then find your words. Ninety seconds is the amount of time it takes for the chemical response in the body (triggered by an emotional event) to run its course, and after this minute and a half, our bodies are ready to get back to equilibrium. Taking this small break before responding allows you to select your tone, words, and intention carefully, and to respond from a place of clarity.