Mind Your Words – They Are Powerful Seeds of Change

By Vicki L. Flaherty

Image: Corfu, Greece (Photo by Vicki Flaherty)

All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind.  ~Khalil Gibran

What did you just say? Take a moment to reflect on what you’ve said so far today, or if it’s early in the day, consider your conversations yesterday. How many words do you estimate you spoke? What was the impact of your speaking?

It is so easy for our words to just come falling out, without even thinking about what we are saying, or what we will create in the process of uttering them.

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.  ~Buddha

Think about the words others have spoken to you? Pick one person from the past week. What words did they say to you? What did you sense was underneath those words? How did what they said make you feel?

There is such power in words, especially when they are thoughtful and come from beyond the logic of our minds and are washed over by the kindness of our hearts.

Words are just words and without heart they have no meaning. ~Chinese proverb

We create with our words. Words are the building blocks of our thoughts. And our thoughts are the building blocks for big things – creative ideas that lead to innovative solutions, emotional connection with others that builds longstanding relationships, the way we feel about ourselves and how that impacts what we do in the world.

And, it’s not just the words we speak out loud to others. It is also the words we say to ourselves. Are you aware of how you talk to yourself? What are the dominant words that you tend to use?

Our words have incredible power: power to move us and others to action, to make amazing things happen, to create powerful change. How are you using your power?

Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change. ~Ingrid Bengis

Below are a couple of suggestions designed to help mind your words and to explore how they can create powerful shifts in your life and relationships.

Word Play

Experiment with using different words and noticing how they make you – and others – feel.  Some suggestions are provided below. Come up with substitutions of your own by noticing when something you say (to yourself or out loud) or something someone else says creates fear or negative energy for you. Then, consider other ways something that was said might be phrased to create something more encouraging or positive.

Instead of this word… Use this word…
Attack (e.g., attack barriers) Discover, overcome
But And
Criticize, correct Guide
Determine, decide, figure out Explore
Drive (e.g., drive change) Create
Explain Share
Have to Get to
Motivate Inspire, energize
Permit (e.g., permit action) Accept
Problem, challenge Opportunity, possibility
Should Could
Tolerate Understand
Weakness Area for growth
Why What
Work Play

Reflection Time

Take a few minutes each day to give some thought to your words. Pick a time of the day when you will sit quietly in an introspective moment. For those of you following this mindfulness series, perhaps you use the time that you are already using for a mindful pause. Take a few intentional breaths to tune into the moment – like dialing in to a station – and consider what you’ve said in the past hour, to others or just inside your head to yourself, and ask what energy your are creating and putting out in the world? Is it what you want? How is it shaping yours or others’ feelings, beliefs and attitudes, choices and actions?

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. ~Mother Teresa

For more ways you can practice mindfulness, see the last post in this series:  Have a Little Compassion, Starting with You.

If you are interested in more on this topic, check out my blog Words, as well as The Energy of Words: Use the Vibration of Language to Manifest the Life You Desire by Michelle Arbeau.

We hope you find these suggested mindfulness approaches useful for creating greater awareness in your life and work. Please feel free to add a comment below to let us know how you have got on.

Content authored by Vicki Flaherty

Vicki Flaherty-Color Square Social Media


Vicki Flaherty is responsible for executive leadership development and leads the Mindfulness@IBM community. You’ll find her on LinkedIn and Twitter and over at her Leading with Intention blog.



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One thought

  1. Great leaders walk the talk. There is nobody more in tune to word choices than Vicki Flaherty. She has taught me many things, and word choices is one of them. But her greatest strength is in how she models the word choice process with the people and teams she engages with. I’ve seen both the power of her approach, and the results, first hand.

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