The Power of Words

As a writer, words are my tools of the trade as they say.  In my day job, I review and write contracts, business cases, contract summaries, and a variety of business communications.  So words or the interpretation of their intent is very much a part of my daily life.  I will admit that I am something of a “word nerd.”  Sometimes too much of one because I pay attention to what is said almost as much as how it is said.

Words can inspire a person or destroy them.  Words can incite a war or end one.  Words can be weapons.  Words spoken in anger or without thinking can damage those we love and care about in ways we can’t begin to comprehend.  Especially if we haven’t taken the time to make sure that person knows what is truly in our hearts.  Words can paint a picture in our minds of incredible beauty and soul wrenching pain.  There is a reason that religions use spoken prayer for rituals/services.  There is a reason we see memes on Facebook that caution us to “taste our words before we spit them out” or to think before we speak.  There was a reason you parents told you if you had nothing good to say then you should remain silent, or whatever variation on that theme they used.

Not to take away from physical abuse in any way, but the scars left by verbal abuse run deeply and are rarely revealed under casual observation. Those who have lived through it can attest to how the words continually haunt and control their lives long after the initial utterance.  That childhood saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” while nice in concept is dead wrong.  Words can hurt.

This power of the word is equally true for the words that we never speak.  Those things we left unsaid because we don’t know how to find the right words to express our feelings, or our anguish.  How many times have you heard someone express regret for not telling a loved one how they felt?  How many times have you walked away from someone because you didn’t believe you were really that important to them because they never spoke the words?

Just speaking the words is not enough at times or in certain situations.  Words without actions backing them up begin to have no meaning to the person hearing them.  For example, an “I’m sorry” from someone who continually repeats the action they are “sorry” for loses its value with each utterance when the behaviors continue.  Eventually, the word loses its power to comfort or gain forgiveness, regardless if the speaker is the same or someone unrelated to what has previously transpired.

Words have power.  Use them wisely.

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

2 Comments

Filed under writing

2 responses to “The Power of Words

  1. Mairead, your post is absolutely right on and well worded. It should be used on a cyber-bullying site, as well as for all us regular folks. I’ve found even innocent e-mails to friends can be misconstrued if not carefully worded. I find I sometimes over explain rather than risk the chance of someone misunderstanding my meaning. Words alone lose so much without facial expression and gestures to go with them to indicate intention. Valuable post!

  2. Facebook conversations are an example of how words without the accompanying actions, gestures, or facial expressions of face-to-face conversation can be amazingly misunderstood. Sometimes the most innocent statement can be taken as angry or hateful by “friends” who really don’t know you offline.

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