The Power of Words

Recently I witnessed a boss yelling at two employees in a lot where their heavy trucks were parked. His words were laced with profanity and you could hear him all over the busy street. I wondered how devasted and discouraged his two men must have felt. Words can build people up or tear them down. Here are some comments written by David Johnson a number of years ago on this subject. I’d like to reprint them:

No doubt you remember chanting the childhood phrase, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.” One minister said that the reason this saying lives on through the years is because it is not true. A word, he said, is like a bullet; it leaves an impact on everything and everyone it hits. Words, not just sticks and stones, can hurt deeply.

Consider the destructive power of the following words: I hate you; you disgust me; I wish you had never been born; I wish you were dead; you are good for nothing; I want a divorce; nobody cares about you; I’ll never speak to you again.

Now consider the constructive power of these: I love you; you are important to me; thank you so much; how can I repay you; you look really nice today; I like your new haircut; great job; this place wouldn’t be the same without you; I’m proud of you; you are irreplaceable; things go better when you are here.

A picture containing person, woman, loudspeaker, red

Description automatically generated

A German folk story tells of a boy who was talking unkindly of others. His father had him take a bag of goose feathers and fling them out of the second story window of his house. The wind scattered them into the streets below. Then he said to his son, “That’s the way your words go out to the people. Now go out and pick them up.” The boy cried out, “That impossible!”  His father said, “So it is impossible to take back the words you have spoken.”

Words reveal who we are and what’s in our hearts. “What’s in the well will come out in the water.” “What’s in the tree will come out in the fruit.” Warning: Watch your words. The tongue is a wet place and it can easily slip.