According to the National Center for Voice and Speech, the average conversation rate for English speakers in the United States is about 150 wpm. Wow! We have an incredible opportunity to help build up a family member, co-worker, or child each time we interact with them by choosing positive, powerful words. Doing so builds resilience and is a great way to engage with your family this Thanksgiving. Just a few simple words can make a world of difference in someone’s life. In this blog, I want to challenge you to have intentional conversations that are meaningful and helpful. What you say and how you choose your words, has an impact on individuals, particularly children. Words have power.
As a child, I was taught early in life that words have power. The words that we speak each day are like seeds. We can sow words that empower and uplift or we can sow words that hurt and stifle someone’s progress. Life has become so fast-paced and hectic that many of us neglect, the opportunity to have an authentic, heart-felt conversations with our family members, friends, co-workers, or children.
When is the last time that you unplugged and gave your undivided attention to someone in your life? Honestly, I had to pause for minute to answer that question. If I’m being transparent, it’s been awhile since I was able to only focus on the person right in front of me.
Choose Your Words Wisely
The words we speak have life. Words give out energy, evoke emotions, and set the tone for back and forth conversation. Choose your words wisely, whether they are the words we speak to one another, or the ones we think about ourselves, words make a difference. The words we use can help people see themselves better than they are. Avoid using words that label someone, regardless if it’s a “bad” or “good” label.
Personally, over the last few days, I can think of a few occasions where my words have evoked different emotions. The first example, involves a causal conversation at a local greenhouse.
A little girl was trying with all her might to pick up some items, but they kept dropping. I noticed the look of disappointment on her face. Her grandmother was trying to encourage her. My eyes connected with the grandmother, which gave me the signal it was ok to offer support to her granddaughter. So, I said, “You are trying very hard to help your grandmother. What if you only picked up two items, and put one in each hand? Do you think that might help?” The little girl tried my suggestion, and was successful. The look of accomplishment on her face was priceless. Her grandmother said, “Thank you for taking time to encourage her, you didn’t have to do that.”
The second example, was a conversation with a friend I had on the phone. I knew, when I answered the phone that I was trying to accomplish another task, and really didn’t have time. However, I thought I could multi-task. You can guess how that went.
I found myself not fully listening to my friend and using “filling words”, like “uh-huh” and “ok.” After a few minutes, my friend said, “What are you doing? Because you are not listening to me. Just give me a call back, when you have time.” After the call ended, I felt horrible, and could only image how she felt. Words have tremendous power. Everything we say produces an effect.
Conversation as an Opportunity to Empower
The next time you have the opportunity to engage in a conversation with a family member, co-worker or child, try some of these powerful words:
- You are so smart.
- You are a great problem solver.
- You did a fantastic job.
- You make me happy.
- I’m so proud of you.
- Keep practicing you will get it.
- I knew you could do.
- Great teamwork.
- You are creative.
- I trust you.
- I know you did your best.
- You are worth it.
- I’m listening.
- Nobody is perfect.
This holiday season, let’s all agree to be more intentional with sowing words of kindness, love, joy, peace, and encouragement. Before we speak, let’s ask ourselves a few questions: Is what I am about to say going to uplift the person? Will it inspire, and motivate them? Is it necessary? How would I feel, if those words were spoken to me?
The late Maya Angelou pinned, the following quote “People will forget what you said …they will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Remember that your words have power – chose them wisely.
By Lisa Thompson
Lisa Thompson, ChildSavers Program Manager, has more than 29 years of experience in Early Childhood as a former teacher, director, and trainer. During her tenure at ChildSavers, Lisa held several former roles: Virginia Quality as a mentor, Family Child Care Master Star Quality Rater, the Virginia Quality Central Region Coordinator, and program specialist for Child Care Aware-Central. Lisa is a train the trainer of Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: Parent-Provider Partnership in Child Care (PCAN), and Zero to Three: Coaching and Mentoring Training Promoting Responsive Relationship Project. She is trained in Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) Program. She has been trained by the authors on the Family Child Care Environmental Rating Scale. She is reliable in Infant, Toddler and Pre-K CLASS. She has a certificate in Certificate in Supervisory and Leadership, Management Development training from Floricane.