Words are a means to communicate your wants and needs. To express your feelings about a person or event. To achieve your goals. For some people, words are the only tool they have. Huge social changes were made through nothing but words. Words that were powerful and shared with millions of other people. This is a phenomenon we rarely see now. So why have words lost their power.
No value is placed on the art of conversation
Knowing how to present yourself and speak to others used to be of the utmost importance. You didn’t want to look like you were just blowing smoke. People knew that to get anywhere in life you needed to know how to talk to people. To truly listen and provide a thoughtful, articulate response. It was an art form that successful people learned to master. That was during a time when words still had power.
Even in written correspondence, people would create well-crafted, eloquent letters to express themselves. Now everything is shortened into an acronym that sometimes was made up at that second and leaves you guessing. It seems people are too rushed to have to say or write a full word. This makes me question if they are also too busy to make sure the information they are providing is true or accurate. Their words hold little weight.
The end of the handshake deal
Some people are manipulative. Other people have been burned because of this. You cannot take someone at their word. Everything has to be documented, signed, witnessed, given a blood oath, etc. There was a time that a deal was sealed with just someone’s word and a handshake. That’s all it took because if you backed out, then other people wouldn’t trust to work with you again. When the mentality of being trustworthy because it was the right thing to do started to decline, words started to lose their power as well.
Saying the right thing is wonderful, but you better be willing to back it up with action. Look at politics. Full of empty promises. People vote with the hope that a candidate is speaking from the heart. There is no way to ensure that though. Often times we see that it was just talk. We were provided lip service. So often people who are respected members of the communities we live in let us down with their words. Every time this happens, we are reminded of the declining power of words as an effective means for change.
White lies have become just lies
People are constantly lying. Not the little lies to spare someone’s feelings, but big lies. If it benefits their agenda, they lie. If they don’t feel like having to fully explain themselves, they lie. It has become easier to lie because then you can twist things to serve whatever your goal is. This wouldn’t be so terrible if it was only for small things. However, this is happening in instances where being completely honest is fully necessary. Like before you marry a person. People are not disclosing all the facts. Lies of omission.
Society has caused people to be able to justify various lies. Hell, famous people are manipulating their image and brand all the time by bending the truth. These people have huge influences on how the rest of the worlds feels it is acceptable to act. This has caused a further loss to the power of words. It has led people to question the truth of what anyone says.
Widespread constant contact and updating (social media)
How many people have done the social media “challenges” where you are supposed to donate with whatever action, and then never do? Social media allows people to be inauthentic and get away with it. We see the words online, then see the opposite actions offline. People always feel like they need to be doing something so they can continuously update others on how fabulous their life is. But life isn’t meant to be fabulous all the time. Nor do I need to constantly know what you are doing even if yours is.
Having that constant contact makes you have to behave a certain way all the time. You do not want people to know you are having a bad day. Or that your relationships are not working. You want people to think everything is perfect. But life is not perfect. We all know that. So when you go on social media and all you show is the best stuff, people don’t buy that what you are saying is really the truth.
When I see people who post everything to all of their accounts, I very harshly judge that person as fake. I take everything they say with a grain of salt. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I know I am not the only person who feels this way. Words had already started to lose their value, but social media put the last nail in the coffin.
How to make sure you are not making people question your word
These are three quick things you can practice to bring power back to your words.
1. Be authentic every time. Don’t just say what you think people want to hear. This includes on social media. Don’t create a fake picture of your life to impress people. Not everything needs to be shared. Only share the important things and illustrate why it is actually important to you.
2. Keep your word if you say you are going to do something. If for some reason you cannot do this, contact whoever you need to in advance and honestly explain why. There is no reason for disappearing on someone after you agreed to help them with something. This goes for both your professional and personal roles.
3. Practice being a good conversationalist. Actually listen to people and respond respectfully and appropriately. Don’t quit listening halfway through and give a half-assed response. People know when you do that and it makes them question you. They will value what you say, even if it isn’t what they want to hear, if they believe you thought about it and are being honest.
Practice these things and maybe at least YOUR words will have some power again!!