Even though they might seem relatively innocuous, our words and thoughts do, indeed, have a lot of power and in fact determine what our own reality is.
We are not the first to recognize this fact. In fact, wise people throughout the ages have seen just how prevalent this is. For example, William Blake, the poet, said, “We become what we behold.” The Buddha himself said, “With our thoughts we make our world.” These are just two of the wise minds that have seen this process evidence in action.
What words to use, then, that can create this kind of power?
Let’s take the often used phrase, “Yes, but.” In effect, what you are doing is trying to overcome someone else’s opinion by suppressing it. In effect, what you have just done is completely discounted their opinion with the word “but.” If you are someone who does this often (or even occasionally), it really blocks you from being able to communicate effectively with other people, and is also not particularly fair to that person. If you would not use this, you could simply acknowledge the other person’s point of view and send the message that although you might not agree with the other person’s point of view, you still allow the other person his or her full power. In other words, you don’t want to disempower anyone else even if you disagree with his or her idea.
You can overcome this by saying, “Yes, and” instead of, “Yes, but.” The word “and” is inclusive, and allows for both opinions to be present and equally valid. It also allows for much more open communication to flow, instead of blocking it.
Your self-talk, too, can be either and powering or disempowering. For example, do you say to yourself a lot of the time that you “must” or “have to” do something? This indicates that you think you have no choice in the matter, when, of course, you do. This type of self-talk disempowers you. If you listen to others talk, you sometimes also can sense this feeling of disempowerment in them.
If you want to change this self talk so that you realize you have a choice in the matter and thus to empower yourself, first, keep track of how often you say the words “should” or “must.” These usually instill feelings of guilt or obligation, and thus some this empowerment to a least some extent.
Other more general words that also hinder communication are “never,” “forever,” and “always.” First of all, it is rarely true that something is “always” or “never” true. There are almost always exceptions. Therefore, if you or someone else is using the words “never” or “always,” you are generalizing and not truly handling the matter at hand in reality. For better communication, avoid this type of generalization when you speak with someone.
Another word it’s usually good to avoid if you can is “try.” Of course, if you don’t know whether or not you can do something, then you are going to “try” to do something. You won’t know whether you can are or not until you try something if you haven’t attempted it before. However, for communication situations, it’s usually best to avoid this word because if you say you are going to “try” to get a task done for someone, you are not committing yourself to it. Therefore, you should say you either can or cannot do it. By stating whether or not you can firmly, you commit yourself to an answer one way or the other.
The more careful you are with the words and phrases used, the better your communication can be. You’ll find that just a little attention to these areas will greatly enhance your communications with others and may even transform your relationships in general. Watch and see what happens. You just might be amazed.