Sometimes we tailor what we say based on how we anticipate that our words will be received.
Sometimes it’s a conscious thing where you will intentionally not say what feels most honest or authentic. Instead you’ll say less, be more neutral and keep the enthusiasm to a minimum.
But perhaps you’re not quite aware that you’re holding back. Often when you’ve been doing something for a long time you take it on as a part of who you are. However, just because something becomes part of your identity, it doesn’t mean that it’s your truest self.
You know the feeling you get when you read something that resonates. You feel seen, you feel heard and you feel connected, often to a complete stranger.
But this person was able to form something that encapsulates a feeling or a moment from your life. It can often serve as a reminder that we’re not so different or as separate from each other as we sometimes end up believing.
If you can be moved by words written 200 years ago then our problems, challenges and experiences aren’t so unique to us, there are plenty of other people that know what it’s like. In my teenage years I liked to beelive that somehow the author knew that I’d need to read their words, almost as if they wrote them just for me. Of course that wasn’t the case but it was a nice thought at the time.
I’ve held on to that idea but allowed it to evolve a little. As someone who writes and shares their words, I never write with a particular person in mind but I know that people are often drawn to read about things they can relate to.
I’ve read great words that have moved me and so I hope to do the same. I guess it’s sort of like taking one and passing it on.
‘I wrote this for you because of what they wrote for me.’
As a writer, when it comes to the written word I think it holds a lot of value.
However, I have to admit that when it comes to communication, the written word doesn’t always come out on top.
In a back and forth exchange, it’s easy to miss the tone or intention of the words you receive. You don’t get the sound of the voice, the volume or the face expression. When all you have to go off is words, you end up filling in the blanks and making things up.
It’s easy to assume the worst, especially when you already have your guard up. Maybe you misread the tone and assume the persons words were intended to be harsh which in turn then influences how you choose to respond. Before you know it the situation has become something that it didn’t even need to be.
So, maybe next time before things get out of hand you can simply arrange to talk face to face or at least make a phone call.
Sometimes we hold back from saying kind words.
We hold back from giving compliments about peoples appearances, actions or how they made us feel.
It’s not out of malice instead it comes from a place of fear.
We end up being worried about things like how our words will be perceived, if we’ll come across too eager and if the person will think we like them romantically when we want to keep things platonic. But a compliment doesn’t need to mean the world, it can simply be said as an observation from your perspective.
Don’t allow your fear of people’s perceptions to stop you saying kind words.
Just because something is on your mind, doesnt mean it needs to be said.
It might seem like a radical concept but not everything needs to be shared.
That idea might seem so far from where we’re currently at because when it comes to social media it often seems that we should push the boundaries and share more.
It would be fair to say those that write and those that are writers probably pay much more attention to words than most.
A writer is intentional about the words they use based on what feelings they want to evoke or how they want to portray the subject.
And sometimes that act of choosing words wisely trickles over into how the words of others are perceived. Except the writer forgets that other people aren’t always so picky with their words.
So, sometimes the writer receives words not quite as they were intended.
The idea of language, the way we speak and what we choose to say is fascinating.
There are words you may use without really understanding exactly what they mean or how they could be interpreted.
I recently received a message that included the word probably. My first thought was how far from definite it was.
I found myself asking google ‘How certain is probably?’. The answer I got, is that it’s more likely a yes than no. However, that no is not a no without a shadow of a doubt, it’s more like a no with a shadow of doubt.
For example, if you asked someone of they would help you with something later in the day and they responded with ‘probably’, you haven’t really gained any clarity from the answer.
When you’re looking to someone for some form of clarity, you’ll want responses like yes, no or certainly, you want an answer that you can rely on.
There are some cases when, if you don’t know what to say the best thing to say is nothing at all. But that doesn’t apply to every situation.
In fact, in some scenarios saying nothing is one of the worst things that you can do.
Sometimes we hold off from speaking up because we think that less than perfect is not good enough. However, the perfect composition of words shouldn’t always be the aim.
At times it’s better to speak up in the moment, to perhaps let someone know that you care instead of staying quiet. The alternative is to wait until what you have to say is closer to perfect but by then it will be too late.
There’s no need to skirt around the issue.
Being clear with your words might seem like a simple thing to do. Yet if you reflect on conversations you’ve had and the things you’ve said recently you might find times when you haven’t been so clear.
It might have been because you weren’t really thinking in the moment but upon reflection you can see that you should have chose your words more carefully.
However, it could also be that the words you chose in the moment weren’t totally honest. Maybe you were scared to say how you really feel.
Either way what ends up happening is you’re not happy with the response you get from the person you were talking to. It’s not because you didn’t agree with them but instead because their response wasn’t addressing what you really had to say.
Next time try being a little clearer and say what you really mean.
In some situations you might find that that there is a discord between what you want and the outcome you get.
If you’re unsure if this applies to you, think about some of your recent encounters with people.
What did you want?
What was the outcome?
Were you happy with the way things turned out?
It’s worth noting that what you want and the outcome don’t have to align completely. Sometimes you end up happy with the way things turn out even when it’s different to what you originally wanted.
But when you find yourself discontent with the outcome, the reason more often than you might think is your choice of words.
People often talk about how it’s good to open up, to let people know how you feel and be vulnerable.
However, it’s important to add if you don’t take the time to word things thoughtfully the outcome can be just as unhelpful as it would be if you say nothing at all.