Choose your words WISELY

Learn­ing how to com­mu­ni­cate more ef­fec­tively crit­i­cal to suc­cess in life

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - FRONT PAGE - BAR­BARA BOWES

IF you re­ally think about it, these past few weeks have opened a win­dow on the im­por­tance of our choice of words. On the one hand, mil­lions of Amer­i­cans and Cana­di­ans once again stood in awe at the power of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech” some 50 years ago. His choice of words mo­bi­lized so­ci­ety and served to pos­i­tively change both na­tions.

On the other hand, Man­i­to­bans have been quickly mo­bi­lized against Deputy Pre­mier Eric Robin­son, whose choice of words landed him in the spot­light for his “do­good white peo­ple” com­ment found hid­den in an in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal email. Since then, ac­cu­sa­tions of racism have been fly­ing fast and fu­ri­ous as more and more peo­ple have waded into the de­bate.

Yet, the power of these words has not di­min­ished, even with the help of pub­lic re­la­tions gu­rus who have at­tempted to smooth the rough wa­ters of this con­tro­versy.

No mat­ter which side of the con­tro­versy read­ers take, this sit­u­a­tion is a good les­son for all of us. You bet­ter be­lieve it, there’s power in our words. Words have the power to mo­bi­lize for good or for evil. Words are known to ruin all types of re­la­tion­ships. And as we see on the world stage, words can even lead us to the brink of war.

Over­all, how we use words has been get­ting a lot more at­ten­tion in so­ci­ety and the work­place than in years past. In fact, the old say­ing, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” has been proven time and time again to be to­tally er­ro­neous. While I’m sure the orig­i­nal les­son was to en­cour­age us to turn the other cheek and ig­nore hurt­ful com­ments, when words get to the point of ver­bal abuse and racial slurs, then enough is enough — tem­pers flare, con­flict arises and feel­ings are hurt.

How­ever, now we have ac­cepted words are in­deed pow­er­ful, to be hon­est, I’m still not con­fi­dent our gen­eral pop­u­la­tion pays suf­fi­cient at­ten­tion to the power of what they say or how they say it. And, since most of us don’t have a pub­lic re­la­tions spe­cial­ist at hand, pay­ing at­ten­tion to our vo­cab­u­lary and our ex­pres­sions and learn­ing how to com­mu­ni­cate more ef­fec­tively is crit­i­cal to our on­go­ing suc­cess in all as­pects of life. So where does one start?

I’m con­fi­dent the fol­low­ing tips will help to re­fo­cus and im­prove your com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills.

Check your at­ti­tude — Good com­mu­ni­ca­tors have a pos­i­tive life at­ti­tude and be­lieve ev­ery­one is equal no mat­ter their colour, racial ori­gin, or opin­ion, for that mat­ter. A pos­i­tive self-at­ti­tude helps to pre­vent blurt­ing out com­ments lis­ten­ers or read­ers ex­pe­ri­ence as per­sonal “put-me-downs” and/or racial slurs.

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