01 June 2012

Words

Words are a powerful communication tool, one of many.  They are what sets us humans apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.  They can be used to praise, to scold, to undermine, to wield power, they can be misconstrued, misunderstood or misused.  We use words for most of our life and usually never stop learning them.  The words we use can define our relationships with others.  If we often use negative words our relationships may be tense or strained for most of the time.

During my working life I worked with many people paid and volunteers, latterly as a manager.  I attended many courses to enhance my skill set.  One course I went on was based on communication skills, neuro linguistic programming or nlp.  This is an approach to communication that was created many years ago.  Like so many approaches that are utilised for training purposes it has its fair share of critics.  It was many years ago now, my memory of most of the course is a little hazy, but there is one particular aspect of the course which I remember vividly and still, attempt to, use today.  We had to remember a conversation that we had recently had that involved conflict of some sort where the outcome was negative.  We were then asked to relive the conversation in our head.  Next time round we had to go through the conversation again but put ourselves into the shoes of the other person.  We then went through it again but this time we were a third party observer.  The point of this exercise was to get you thinking about what we say and the impact that our words can have on others and to think about how you would feel if someone said what you are going to say to you.

As a mother I continue to, try and, apply this.  In the heat of the moment it is easy to forget!  Perhaps next time you have a day when you feel like you are at odds with your children or the world, reflect on what you have said and whether you could have used different words to ease your path through the world.

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