There is tremendous power in spoken words
by Ujjwal Dey
Words are the tools of the civilized man. We don’t grunt and hiss like apes. We communicate through elaborate words, phrases and gestures. The great orators are easily remembered because of the impact of their words. Leaders in business and social sphere aspire to be orators because the only way to rally mankind behind a cause is to influence their emotions with effective words. Passion, once aroused, drives man and woman to accomplish the most challenging goals. Words motivate us and encourage us during times of adversity. Specific words engage our emotions and drive excellence in people. Words also satisfy and reassure us when in doubt. Words can change the way we respond to a situation. When celebrating success, words show our all-round appreciation for contributions and contestants. You cannot toast to friends or family without words that cheer them on. You cannot educate the masses without informative words that reason with the crowd. Words written down spread ideas across generations and civilizations. Words therefore are the key to effective people management in small as well as large groups.
The power of the spoken word is immediate. Our tone and our choice of words gives voice to our feelings. If we are angry, our choice of words reflects the same. If we are grateful, our words communicate the same. In daily conversations, we may or may not be aware of our tone and choice of words. We may feel casual among a particular group of people and let our tongues loosen up on the conversation. Perhaps in an office meeting, we may be very formal and to the point, knowing fully well the impact to productivity and the bottom-line. But irrespective of whether you are chatting with your friends or with your Board of Directors, words once spoken are out there for external judgment. You have expressed an idea or an emotion in words. There is no excuse for using the words improperly or inappropriately. Your audience will deduce that you feel or believe a particular way based on those spoken words. We may regret and we may change the subject. But the arrow of words sent across has reached the target destination in the minds of your receptive audience. This is exactly why companies have entire departments focused on business communications. Corporate Communications department follows strict guidelines on how the company is portrayed in the media with specific choice of words and statements. Marketing Communications department aims to interest the prospective customer without indulging in libel against competition or false advertisements.
Just as a corporate entity invests in building a brand value through its official channels of communications, you may get judged by your speech. In social circles or peer groups, we are encouraged to be open and frank. Yet, remembering the fact that we may be branded under a particular label, it is wise to choose our words carefully.
Philosophically also, one may be advised to be careful with spoken words. Just like the act of slapping is violence, the words that suggest someone be slapped is also violent. Cursing your own fate is giving existence to the thought of failure. Ancient Indians believed specific words can change the entire environment and cause good or bad effects on a person or even a group of persons. Mantras evolved into sacred writings simply because of the belief that they can influence nature. Legends speak of singer Tansen singing words so passionately in Emperor Akbar’s court that it rained without season for rainfall. Words of George Washington led to a Constitution and Declaration of Independence that has been the very seed of the establishment of the greatest nation known to modern society. Against all odds, Winston Churchill conveying his wit and courage in national speeches, transformed a broken nation of England to fight the better equipped armies of Germans in World War II.
People are the key differentiators in companies, in nations and in families. While one family may give up under adversity, another may rise to the challenge through power of words. These words can be a simple prayer to a deity or the vocalization of the ambition of man against his circumstances. A frail old man dressed in bare necessities rallied an entire nation to struggle for independence from British occupation in non-violent and peaceful means. Mahatma Gandhi achieved this absurdly impossible task through his words. People being the key differentiators, realize also that it is the spoken word of man that changes people. Give hope to the dreary, give peace to the troubled, give courage under pressure, deliver ambition to the lost – only through effective choice of words. Words express ideas. And ideas survive when people are lost. You can crush your opposition to death. But their words may spread and continue the struggle from oppression simply because they give voice to ideas which cannot be killed as easily as your enemy. Propaganda is hence considered a weapon of war in modern society.
So there is no denying the power of spoken words. The words come alive through speech. They exhibit their own existence in a group. You can hurt someone with mere words. You may build a broken nation with words. You may also become eternal if your words survive the test of time to be conveyed through generations. Be careful in your choice of words. To speak words is to establish a thought, to manifest an idea. Choose to create positive thoughts and ideas in people, simply by choosing your spoken words.