I have written previously about how language, our use of words, can have an impact on the emotions and attitudes of those around us, as well as ourselves. With the current worldwide health crisis, terms such as physical and social distancing have become prominent in our rhetoric. Someone suggested using the term “safe connecting “instead, and it got me thinking again about the power of language. Look at those two terms side by side and think for a moment how they feel, I mean really feel how those two terms differ in the emotions they invoke.
Social distancing – I must keep away from people, I am going to feel isolated.
Safe connection – I am going to stay connected but in a safe way.
While the distinction is subtle, I believe it is very powerful.
It reminded me of a video that has been around for some time which gives an insight into the power of words.
“What did you do to my sign?” – The Power Of Words (opens in a new window/tab)
The video shows a blind man sitting at the bottom of some stairs waiting for donations with a sign that reads “I’M BLIND PLEASE HELP” A few people drop coins in his cup. A well-dressed lady comes by, changes the sign and then walks away. Suddenly he starts receiving a large amount of donations. When the mystery lady returns the man recognises her and asks, “What did you do to my sign?” She replies, “I wrote the same, but different words”. She changed the sign to read “IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND I CAN’T SEE IT”
While this is obviously scripted, I believe its message is powerful. In my opinion the words in the first sign may invoke feelings of guilt and of feeling uncomfortable at being a sighted person. We may even experience mild anger at feeling we are being manipulated into giving. Alternatively, the changed sign can invoke feelings of compassion and gratitude, in that it is indeed a beautiful day and we are grateful that we can see it.
Which of these emotions are more conducive to giving?
What feels more empowering, “social distancing” or “safe connection”?
Tony Robbins once stated “what is more important than how you feel”
Our thoughts and our words create our emotions. Our emotions influence our behaviour which affects our lives and the lives of those around us, which in turn affects our thoughts and emotions which affects? Well you get the idea. So choose your words, both written and verbal carefully as they may have a greater influence on your life than you ever imagined.
Wishing you all the best in your journey
Sources: Daily Motivation https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGuYd1BlqU9D3PgId20j26g
Tony Robbins – Get the Edge. https://www.tonyrobbins.com/coaching/get-the-edge/