Words: Builders or Destroyers

Words: Builders or Destroyers

THINK!  T is it true,  H is it helpful,  I is it inspiring,  N is it necessary, and  K is it kind.

For just a minute, let’s think about the words we use to communicate in our relationships. Interesting, huh? Ever thought about this before? Let’s consider this…Words are very important. Words can be used to tear relationships apart, instill fear, and create limitations; but they can also give birth to a faithful vision. Words can heal as well as be used to forgive and to love. Each of us is the master of our own words. We can choose to master them; or, be mastered by them. The words we release into our lives and the lives of others can carry love, hate, lead to confusion and devastation. They can build or they can destroy. 

They can often impact our partner’s lives for decades, providing either courage to press on, or one more reason to give up. Words are powerful! I try to live by this wisdom every day and make a positive influence using my words. Why do I say “I try”? It’s because I am human, and so are you.  I know it’s hard! We have been influenced by words all our lives, and we have been on the receiving end of the builders and destroyers. So, we know how they feel.

For example, if a positive word was powerfully used in conversation, then we will have a good feeling of its value to us. Consider the effect of the words “fantastic” then conversely, “awful” in conversation. We could tell our partner, “That dinner was fantastic” or “That dinner was awful”. We have the power to build or destroy. Yes, we have the power; BUT, we have a choice!

According to Sigmund Freud, the late psychiatrist, words have a magical power and they can either bring the greatest happiness or the deepest despair. Many of us are driven to speak to any passing feeling or thought that we have. We randomly dump the contents of our minds onto our partners without regard to the significance of what we say. We should speak with an understanding that reflects the peace and compassion of our character. During the conversation, we should listen patiently, speak tactfully, and tell the truth as we understand it. Are we reacting from emotion or pausing to truly realize what we are saying, and the consequences of what we are saying? Are we coming from a good place or a bad one? Approach each conversation with an open mind and remember, emotions often trump logic. They often play a huge role in how messages are received. 

As physicians, we use thousands of words a day spoken to EHR, patients, staff, other physicians, etc. Think about how those words are used. Aren’t we trying to build rather than destroy? Shouldn’t our spouses be afforded the same treatment (pun intended) as we use to build and give credit to our patients, co-workers, best friends? 

Let us use our words to build and not destroy, to credit and not discredit; and most importantly, to love not to hate. 

I would like for you to consider the following acronym which I, as well as my wife, have used. It really is quite useful. Choose to think in the moment.

THINK before you speak.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a thought-provoking pearl of wisdom to keep in mind. Though it may be extremely difficult to do in the heat of anger and frustration, speak as though the words you are using are the last words you will ever speak to your spouse. Words have power! THINK!


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