“Find the words and you will find the way.”
I write and speak a lot about words and language. As you know, I am of the school of research and thought that espouses language guides everything from our ability to be optimistic to our ability to relieve depression. Language is important to my work because it directly impacts our well-being and feelings of success. Everything from the ability for teams at work to succeed to the ability to ignite resilience, depends on the words we choose and the language we use.
Kaitlin Kellogg and I have discussed language and its impact on success many times in our webcasts. We do so again in Episode 16 of Serving Your Success, this time with a focus on social media. Three points of interest in the episode can be found at 11:15; 14:00; and 23:13 where I define honest as used in positive psychology.
I think it is fair to say, social media has impacted the day-to-day language of all our lives. Specifically, the low boil of political correctness was raised to scorching levels through social media. Everyone seemed to have a story of being burnt.
There is an additional learning that I have garnered over the last few months: Alternative truths fuel fake news which ignites fake emotions.
Fake emotions do not belong to any one age group, religious group or political party. It does not matter which alternative truth you are exposed to or prefer. It can be a piece about Alaska being bombed by North Korea, igniting fearful negative fake emotions. It can be a beautiful piece about Steve Jobs’ supposed last words, igniting positive fake emotions. Fake is fake. What follows fake emotions are generally feelings of embarrassment and shame that are all too real. That is the moment of awareness when you know language matters. Fake emotions and broken trust are the problems. The words you use are the solution.
Shut up, Show up and Shine
We are collectively being called to up our word usage and language skills. We are being called to slow down, think, not react, then act. How we speak, how much research we do before we share something and how we trust, are in the forefront of the development of our self-awareness. Pausing gives the frontal lobe of the brain a chance to engage. The pause allows you to think. Thinking is the domain of the frontal cortex and is key to effective decision making. Thinking before you speak will allow you to better trust the language you use.
No shame, No blame, No rationalization
Know it is not trusting others that is the problem with alternative facts and fake news. At the core of all this fake stuff is our ability to trust ourselves. Only we are responsible for our well-being. Only we determine what information we consume. Only we manage our reaction to what is put before us. We get the last say in everything. We all have the power we need. We just need to decide to use that power effectively.