Be careful what words you use.

They say, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”Tony Blair in front of the Iraq War - be careful what words you use - by Charles Harris

Really? Words have hurt people throughout history. Words can stir up hate, foment violence and drive people to despair.

They can also create peace, bring people together and help them achieve great goals.

Words create images

Words create images in people’s minds – the words you choose to use can have a profound effect on the images other people walk around with – and those images can in turn have a profound effect on what they do.

Think of the words you use to describe your work, your successes, your problems, your needs. Are they doing the job?

Let’s just take two phrases, not at random. We’ve all heard them a thousand times:

Global warming and Climate change.

The trouble is that global warming sounds gentle, nice. We all like to be warm. What’s the problem if that nice warm feeling goes round the world?

And change: change is refreshing. Change is good. A change is as good as a rest. Who wouldn’t want change? Even if it’s the climate that’s changing.

I mean, how bad could a bit of change be?

Be careful

Those phrases just don’t hack it. They are doing the reverse of what they are supposed to do. I don’t say that we should be scaring people… except maybe we should be scaring people.

Right now, people are dying from these things. From Greece to Japan.

What would happen if we started talking about Global overheating?

And Climate crisis?

How might we think and act differently then?

Just two phrases out of millions that we use unthinkingly all the time. What other things do we say that have profound effects on what we and other people do?

Be careful what words you use.

Read more:

More on Words and the Mental Game