Words have power, both positive and negative. They can be curses, blessings, oaths, and threats. When arranged in a certain way, they can be poetry. Many words strung together on a page or a screen can turn into a great piece of literature or a boring report.
One of the powers of words is that they evoke feelings. They can make us laugh or cry. They can convey kindness or bitterness, respect or disdain. They even have the power to give or take away someone’s hope.
When mixed with great emotion, words can live in our memories forever. Few people ever forget the words a physician said when giving them bad news or when hearing that a loved one survived a risky surgery. Likewise, the words, “Will you marry me,” or, “I want a divorce,” have an emotional impact that can last a lifetime.
We celebrate the first words a child speaks, and we cherish the last words of a dying loved one. Praise, or words of encouragement, from a parent, teacher, or boss, can carry us a long way. Harsh criticism or words spoken in anger can defeat us. We talk about needing to “grow a thicker skin” as armor against repeated word barbs in stressful situations.
As you move up the career ladder, the words you use become even more important. They have more power because you have more power. How you talk to others and the tone you use can be as significant as what you actually say. So choose your words carefully whether speaking to a colleague, an employee, or–especially–your boss. The words, “You’re fired!” are words you never want to hear.