“In the beginning was the Word”― John 1:1
In today’s post, I would like to tell you a story that will highlight the power of words and why it is so important to choose the right words when speaking...either during external communication or internal dialogue.
It is a rainy afternoon in the city. On the side of the road, in the pedestrian zone sits an old blind man, begging for money. An old, dented begging bowl lies on the pavement in front of him along with a sign which says:
“I’m blind, please help me”.
He doesn’t seem to have much success though. Few people care to even slow down and acknowledge his presence.
A coin drops into the can every now and then, but not more than that.
After a while, a young lady happens to pass by. She stops and looks at the signboard for a moment. She then turns the board around and scribbles something on the blank surface. Her job done, she places the new sign facing the street and departs without saying a word. The blind man, having sensed her presence, is unable to determine what the lady was up to.
The change to his fortune, however, is instantaneous: more and more people slow down to read the sign and put money in the bowl before walking by. The continuous sound of falling coins puts a smile on the blind man’s face.
Later that afternoon, the young lady comes back and stands in front of the blind man again. He touches her shoes and immediately recognizes her. He thanks her profusely and then asks: “What did you do to my sign?” She replies: “I wrote the same statement, but I used different words.”
“Read it to me please”, he says, “as I’m keen to know how you managed to effect such a change.”
She reads the sign out slowly for his benefit:
“It’s a beautiful day, but I can’t see it.”
What do you think is the difference between these two statements?
The first statement – I’m blind, please help me – is a rational statement. Factual, but dry and lacking the personal connection.
The second one – It’s a beautiful day, but I can’t see it – however, has a profound emotional effect and triggers two strong emotions in anyone who reads it: gratefulness and compassion. A very powerful combination, which in turn leads to the desired action.
Antonio Damasio a famous neuroscientist has penned a beautiful quote:
“We are not thinking machines ... We are feeling machines that think.”
This statement is profound and is a reminder to each one of us is that our feelings indeed control our thoughts in almost every thing we do.
Use the appropriate words which rouse strong emotions and you will compel yourself or anyone else you are dealing with to take action.
This goes for internal dialogues as well … speak words, and in turn create compelling emotions, that will urge you to take positive actions every time.
Another quote gives more perspective to the power of emotions:
“The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions.”
I end this post by urging you to be mindful of the words you choose ... berate yourself less, praise yourself more. You are who you are, and if you cannot love yourself ... no one else can!
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“Because even the smallest of words can be the ones to hurt you, or save you.” ― Natsuki Takaya
What kind of words will you choose to use from now on? Will you take the higher moral ground and bite your tongue if moved to criticize? And, will you shout from the rooftops if you are moved to praise?