“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Dr. Maya Angelou
Words. So simple yet they hold so much power. Language is the tool that separates humans from animals. Our words allow us to communicate ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Throughout time, many leaders and notable figures have used their words to move people one way or another.
The famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remains one of the greatest speeches of our time. Dr. King masterfully crafted a speech to convey the plight, fight, and dream of disparaged Black Americans. Not only did this speech bring awareness to the injustices that many Black Americans faced, but it inspired people from all backgrounds to join the fight towards social justice – continuing to inspire and empower generations today.
We have always witnessed events in the past, where words have been used to divide and promote hate. Even today, we see world leaders who use a platform of racial superiority to divide a nation further that, to this day, continues to struggle with social equality.
Our words have power. Although most of us aren’t political or social leaders, the words we choose in our daily interactions affect our relationships with others and can also provide insight into the relationship we have with ourselves.
One day while I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across a post that partially inspired this blog post. A teacher passed out tubes of toothpaste to each student in her class. She instructed them to squeeze all of the toothpaste out. After each student emptied the tube, she then asked them to put all the toothpaste back into the tube. This was impossible but taught a precious lesson. Once we say something to someone, good or bad, it is impossible to take it back. If we unintentionally or intentionally use our words to hurt someone, although we can apologize to rectify the situation, at the end of the day, we can’t take the words we said back and most times, and we can’t undo the feelings those words caused.
The words we choose can also show ourselves and others how we view and treat ourselves. How so? This brings me to the title of this blog post, “To Season With Salt or Honey.” Growing up, I was never the one to speak up for myself. My lack of words gave my inner power to others, allowing them to view me the way I saw myself as someone weak.
I also struggled with and make a conscious effort today to eliminate using modifiers in my speech. Many women often use modifiers in their speech to “soften” the way wants, needs, opinions, and feelings are communicated to others. Here are a few examples of modifying speech:
I just wanted to let you know…
I may be wrong, but…
I’m sorry I missed your call
Do you mind if I add something?
Although the above examples may seem like a polite way of communicating, in fact, adding these modifiers undermines our ideas. We shouldn’t have to ask permission to express our thoughts, or verbally doubt our intentions before their presented. Seasoning your words with salt means communicating your message as is, being straightforward with what we want, and showing confidence.
While it’s important to be confident in our speech and not to undermine what we’re trying to communicate, it’s also essential that we season our words with honey. What does this mean? As mentioned earlier, our words create feelings in others. Very reminiscent of the quote by Dr. Maya Angelou at the onset of this article, people will remember the way our words made them feel and affects the way they view and interact with us in the future.
It is possible to season our words with honey without using modifiers that undermine our communication. This is where word choice comes into play. If someone hurts us and we want to communicate it to them, it’s not necessary to use expletives or insults to tell them. Our word choice can be the moment that defines future interactions, for good or for bad. Anger is a natural human emotion, and there are healthy, productive ways of communicating our feelings. Even if someone does insult us, we can change the course of the future with the words we use to react.
Words hold an extreme power. They can stir up feelings in people, inspire, and can even offer a deeper glimpse into our souls, as the words we choose can show how we view ourselves and how we want to be treated by others.