How much grass on the Wimbledon courts? How many roads do we need to walk? Bob Dylan wishes to know. Both challenging questions that I don’t know the answers to; please let me know if you do! How many words does the average person speak in a lifetime? According to Gyles Brandreth it is a staggering …
… 860,341,500. That is a LOT of words. This got me wondering if I always make best use of the words I speak.
Words that I speak in anger (as if!!) hurt both another person and myself and usually result in an outcome that I did not intend. Personally, in such a situation I will then reflect and feel guilty. All adds up to wasted energy.
Words spoken in a sulky or withdrawn way serve little purpose. They probably leave me feeling not listened to and resentful, again without much chance of having influenced a situation or gained what I wished.
Words that are spoken with a positive intent and in a way that invites the other person to listen and consider, that offers a viewpoint without seeking to dominate or override. These are most likely useful words spoken well. Even a negative message, such as feedback about poor performance, can be delivered in a way that respects the person to whom the feedback is being given.
If you are familiar with the work of Patsy Rodenburg and her circles of energy then you may spot how my examples above draw on her three circles. Those of you who know Eric Berne’s work on transactional analysis may also see how my examples above, very simplistically, relate to the three ego states.
Rodenburg and Berne are just two sources of guidance to help us be conscious of the words we use and how we use them. Whenever I look at their works I am reminded of the power of words and therefore the importance of choosing with care. Seeking to choose words that achieve my aim while respecting the position of the other: not always easy but worth the effort. I will keep trying; it probably is easier than counting the grass on the courts at Wimbledon; I will just sit back and carry on watching!