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The Power of a Single Word

Words are very powerful.  Say something mean and hurtful in anger and it may be difficult to take back or forget. But say something kind when someone needs it most and you are a savior and inspiration.  Words, therefore, are very powerful and must be chosen wisely and with much thought.

In your marriage, conversations between you and your spouse can build your relationship or break it down. With mindfulness, you can practice good listening skills and effective responses that will encourage appreciation, respect and good-will with your partner.  Or, you can always have an agenda and create divisions, animosity, loneliness and despair.

There are a few specific skills and techniques you can learn so that the words you use express exactly what you want to say and what you hope your partner understands.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Pay attention to how the conversation is going. Are you engaged with gestures like nodding, smiling and making encouraging short phrases like, “Okay,” “No kidding!,” “Is that right?” or “I hear you?”
  • Repeat what is said by paraphrasing so your partner knows you get it.  “So what I hear you saying is…” or “Do you mean …” Then clarify the conversation with questions like, “Is this your point when you say …? You’ll be amazed at how often we misinterpret what is being said and need concrete clarification to get the information straight.
  • Never assume anything, especially that the other person knows what you are thinking or feeling. Check back and clarify if you’re being “heard” using the active listening technique sited above.
  • Don’t be on a mission to always be right! Some issues do not have a black-and-white right and wrong to them. Always ask yourself the question: Would I rather be right – or loved! People who fight to be right all the time and can never accept another viewpoint make poor relationship partners. If you are that person, your relationship is heading towards disaster. Don’t be that person – or get into a relationship with someone like that!
  • Your body language includes your tone of voice and cadence and continuously sends messages to your partner. Nothing has a greater impact on a relationship than the “wordless” messages you send.  This information is vital to keeping your relationship strong and healthy.  You may not always be aware of what upsets your partner, so be alert to how your actions and body language might look from their perspective.
  • Give those closest to you the benefit of the doubt, by remembering positive things about them and by not being too critical.  This is most difficult with people who have hurt you.  It’s very important to build a loving, trusting connection with another person, but it is even more satisfying to build it through respect, friendship and integrity. In other words, be the catalyst to heal any poor relationships.  The more you are aware of your part in the relationship, the more you can remedy any shortcomings you may have, through your actions and your words.
  • Remember, words have a way of connecting people or dividing them. Most people in your life may forget what you said or even forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel!  Will your words belittle the other person?  Will you be inflicting emotional pain through your comments?  These are important factors to consider.

Your choice of words can prevent a heart from breaking, or ruin a friendship that has lasted over 20 years.  So, let your words be a source of comfort, support, encouragement, peace and love – and you’ll be a better person because of it. The effort you make to communicate better takes patience, but the outcome is usually very positive and rewarding.



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