Words are amazing. They can be written, thought, spoken or signed. They are the concrete structures of our abstract thoughts. Through words, we represent our world, our feelings and our actions. Sewn together, words mobilize concepts into story and unfold a connection between the author and the reader. Through words, I can step into your life and you, mine. I can feel. I can relate. I can sense the flow of my own cognitive energy as well as yours. Words allow me to grasp and challenge the clarity of the moment, the importance of the thought and the landscape on which our relationships are formed. Through my words, you can see me. Through your words, I can see you.
Communication is intimate. When we speak or write words we become vulnerable. Part of who we are is made accessible to others. When those words we send are loving and kind, we feel those warm connections and our brain triggers a neurochemical response making us feel more included, connected and wanted. When those words are cruel, attacking, or demeaning, we feel a surge of anger, exclusion, insecurity or apprehension. The words we use and how we respond to them can have a profound impact on our health and the health of others. They form or they destroy our relationships. They can build bridges or they can declare war. But worse than harsh words are no words at all. When there is a lack of communication it sends a signal of detachment, alienation and separation. Without words, we distance ourselves from others and sever the chance for connection.
Communication is vital. I think we often fail to appreciate the gravity of communication and its role in building and maintaining healthy relationships. Understanding and connecting to each other is paramount to living a rewarding life and accomplishing our business and personal goals. We all seem to intuitively know that. Yet surprisingly, we often fail at communicating, or at least, communicating well. Have you ever been in a situation where it was clear that there was a misunderstanding but you failed to speak up? Have you ever thought to yourself that you should reach out to someone to encourage them, but you didn’t follow through? Or perhaps, you knew there was a difficult conversation that you needed to have, but you just didn’t have the time or courage to do it? I can relate to those situations and more. It is vital to communicate, but it doesn’t mean it is easy.
Communication is an investment. It takes time and energy. Yes, it is even risky, after all, because it means we become vulnerable. But it is worth it. Words are powerful and the dividends are healthy, vibrant and growing relationships. As my friend, Jeff Gallimore always says, “Sharing is caring!” Spend some time this week caring for others by communicating. Share some feedback with kindness. Make someone’s day by giving some encouragement. Make the investment. Connect with others through this miracle we call words.