The impact of language: inside & out
6th October 2020
There was once a man who was born with nothing. His biological mother gave birth to him and his twin on the floor of an abandoned building and aged 5 weeks, he was given up for adoption. Incorrectly deemed to be ‘retarded’, the boy was sent to a school for those with educational needs.
Fortunately, the drama teacher saw his potential, encouraging him and supporting him. Inspired by this trust and belief, the man went on to have a stellar career in radio and to become one of the world’s most influential motivational speakers: Les Brown. The words of the great orators spurred him on and drove him to follow a path whereby he in turn has inspired countless others.
There are many such examples of self-made people. Those who came from humble backgrounds and who demonstrated the self-belief and the foresight to produce great things – thanks to the world that they surrounded themselves in and the language that they responded to.
The form of language
Language comes in two types: internal and external. Internal being the words that we say inside our heads and external being the words that the outside world hears and sees coming from us: our written and spoken words.
These two forms of languages create our worlds.
We all know people who are glass-half-full. Chances are, their lives are no more successful or happier than other peoples, who may respond in a less positive way. However, learning to use our language, internally and externally, to create the world in the fashion that is most helpful to us takes skill, practice and dedication. Those glass-half-full people have that skill.
Les Brown’s life story exemplifies how our worlds are ones that we create. We all have an internal dialogue or chatter that goes on in our heads some or all of our waking life. For some, our internal noise is positive, supporting and aids our focus. However, for others, it is a negative and possibly destructive force.
Anyone experienced imposter syndrome? Some studies report that up to 80% of people have. And for many, our internal voice is the main reason that we achieve less and consider ourselves suitable for fewer roles, choosing not to speak up.
So, over the next few days consider to which dial your internal voice is tuned: is it positively encouraging and supportive of you? Or is it slowly but powerfully negatively impacting how you view yourself and your role within the world?
To shift it, permanently, towards a brighter note, you may wish to do the following:
Every time you notice it criticising you or others, check in with yourself. How helpful is your response?
Before presenting or delivering material in some way, consider how you want to feel whilst delivering the work? What language could you choose to use inside to help yourself do an even better job?
There has never been a more important time to recognise one’s external voice be it written or spoken. With much if not all work being done remotely, the impact that your words have has never been greater.
On video conferencing or on a call, subtle non-verbal communication is often lost. Therefore, being truly explicit in your meaning or what you would like from a situation is crucial.
Your language represents and promotes you. Choose your words carefully and well – it can make more difference than you could ever imagine.
And finally, things that trip many up:
The language of busyness
Ever hear yourself saying “I’m so busy” or “I never have time for X”? Ruminating on and dwelling on your busyness is an easy trap to fall into. However, being busy and responding negatively to it is contagious. If you notice colleagues, in person or online, talking at length about how busy they are, you can question with a beaming smile and friendly tone and ask them “really?”.
In a supportive space, learning to question each other’s language can make the difference between a happy, productive workplace and one full of stressed, unproductive individuals. However, knowing how to call each other out respectively is a skill which is worth honing and discussing. Your work life will be a better place, for sure.
And leaving the best until last – how often do you say, “I must do X” or “I should do Y”? Using these words, which are words of obligation, leaves us with an onus of responsibility. If we don’t manage to achieve said task, we are often left with a sense of failure. Choose to say, “I will do X” or “I can do Y” and a very different feeling remains.
So, over the coming weeks, consider how useful your internal and external language is. Are you using your words as a force for good or, subconsciously, are they impacting on your life in a less than helpful way?
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