The Power of Words

B. Keith Chapman, President & CEO


Have you ever wondered how powerful your words can be? There is not much truth in the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It is well understood that what we say and how we act toward others can damage relationships, hurt feelings and reduce productivity. However, you may not have given much thought to how your own words can affect you individually. The Illusion of Truth effect, sometimes called the validity effect, is used to describe a phenomenon in which someone believes that certain information is correct after being repetitively exposed to the same information. In some studies of this effect, individuals were exposed to false information with repetition and eventually convinced themselves it was the truth. There is power in the words that we speak, even to ourselves. This is just one reason why negativity, bad attitudes, and poor communication can have a tremendous impact on our personal health and the overall health of the workplace.


An unknown author once said, “Actions prove who someone is, words just prove who they want to be.” Have you ever committed to something and didn’t follow through? This is just another example of the power of words. Others use our words to establish expectations. You may have great intentions, but a lack of action or follow through will damage confidence and trust. We have all been blessed to serve others in one capacity or another. We should take that responsibility seriously and understand that even the simple things that we do or say can impact those around us. Choosing our words wisely can help ensure success in meeting others expectations and building lasting relationships built on trust.


Proverbs 15:4 says, “Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” This passage is another simple but profound application that highlights several important aspects of choice of words. First, the use of the adjective “gentle” suggests that our approach to communication is important. Second, it suggests that certain words can bring life or positive energy. From this application, we can surmise that certain words could also bring death or negative energy. Third, a deceitful tongue or false information is devastating to the spirit. Notice that this passage is neutral in terms of who is affected. I believe this is intentional as it applies to us individually just as much as it is meant to apply to the words we speak to others.


The most successful people in life value the power of words and understand the impact they have on themselves and the people around them. Take some time over the next month to think about what you say to yourself and others. You might just be surprised by how often you are missing the opportunity to speak “life” into your day or others around you.


Challenge: Focus on the things that you are hearing and saying repetitively; ensure that you are speaking “life” to yourself and others. Remember that approach in your communication is important. Do what you say you are going to do. Don’t underestimate the power in your words!


Published: February 1, 2018

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