Words Have Power

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Words, whether spoken or written, can motivate and bring hope to the weary. In the same manner, those with less noble intentions can deliver divisiveness and harm to the public. Words employed by skilled orators or writers are persuasive, captivating and even addictive. In 1839, English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton elevated their effectiveness by proclaiming that the pen is mightier than the sword.

On the other hand, we’ve also heard that actions are louder than words, but the ability to incite these actions is more than likely planted by words. Language can create, change or reinforce public opinions about a concept or idea, positive or negative. As Rudyard Kipling wrote, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

“With your words, you wield the power to plant seeds of either success or failure in the mind of another, and in the process, you reveal who you are, how you think and what you believe,” advised Darlene Price, who specializes in high-impact presentations and effective communication skill-building. “Whether it’s inspiring a nation, launching a product, building a team, or mending a relationship, the right words spoken at the right time can change history. Words matter. If Rudyard Kipling was right, words are the most powerful drug used by humanity. Whether we use that drug to heal or harm lies in the power of the tongue.”

Positive Impact
Words can be incredibly inspirational and uplifting, giving hope and purpose. Think of Sir Winston Churchill comforting and stirring the British during the darkest days of World War II or the soulful offerings from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., proclaiming his vision through the “I Have a Dream” speech. The right words, shared at the right time, give us courage and perseverance. This is why it is incredibly important that we employ them skillfully and with a purpose to positively impact others. This is especially critical for those who have influence over us.

Messages from community leaders can be experienced more powerfully because of the place these individuals keep in society. Governmental executives, religious leaders, CEOs and others who hold public leadership positions are awarded more influence by society simply due to the positions they hold. Many people assume their words and actions have more authority and impact because these individuals must be outstanding to attain these roles.

While we may attribute more power due to position, another reason we highly judge the level of impact of leaders and their words lies with how our brains have been genetically programmed throughout the centuries to maintain the species. “Humans are aspirational. We want to look up to role models and leaders and follow what they ask,” stated media psychology expert Scott Sobel. “Leaders and their words–inspirational quotes–affect us on a primal level.”

Sports Success
Multiple studies have shown the impressive bearing that motivational quotes can have on people by exposing them to words that signify success. These quotes can increase performance, grow the willingness to work and grind it out for extra effort. Nowhere is that more apparent than in sports.

Sports psychologists name these phrases “cue words.” Teams can employ them as a call to action or use them more pointedly in decisive situations. Certain expressions might be called upon for teammates and individuals to dig in and finish strong as they start to lose ground. Or they might focus the team on a particular skillset to close out the game or match against the opponent. The ideal is to move the athlete from the gnawing worry of losing to an area that they can control, which is their performance.

Cue words are also effective tools for individuals, especially children. If your child has difficulty staying focused, suffers from performance anxiety or is struggling with a certain skill or aspect of her game, cue words can be a great tool to move them past that issue. Phrases such as Dig deep; Get after it; You got this; Just do it; Stay in the game; or even Be like Mike have been used to inspire assurance, lower apprehension, refocus and more. Many times, individuals will select their own special cue to regroup and reinforce in their minds that they are capable of performing their best at all times.

The power of words, written or spoken, cannot be overlooked. They can inspire others to accomplish certain tasks or goals. They can give hope or purpose while creating an expectation of what is promised or understood. It’s up to the public to hold leaders accountable for the impact words can have and the reactions they can bring to a community. Also, we must hold ourselves to those same high standards. By using words to positively motivate, we can work together to find solutions. As the ancient Latin phrase reveals, “Where there is unity, there is victory.” ■

Sources: fastcompany.com, forbes.com, thindifference.com and ilovetowatchyouplay.com.