STOPTIME: Live in the Moment.

Lisa Hopkins: Use Your Words!

August 27, 2021 Lisa Hopkins, Wide Open Stages Season 4 Episode 12
STOPTIME: Live in the Moment.
Lisa Hopkins: Use Your Words!
Show Notes Transcript


In his book “The Four Agreements”,  Don Miguel Ruez says be impeccable with your word…"Speak with integrity, honesty, and truthfulness and say only what you mean."

But unless we choose our words carefully, how are we able to do that?



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Why don’t we take more care with the words we use? Are we really in such a hurry that we’d rather speak quickly than take the time to articulate what we really mean?  

I recently finished binge watching Downton Abbey and found myself mesmerized by the character’s keen articulation and expression of the English language. From the scullery maid, all the way up to the upper echelon of high society, their vocabulary was vivid and rich and although there was a clear class distinction in their accents, denizens of both upstairs and downstairs were equally comfortable and deliberate with the words they chose to speak.  Granted, it’s a scripted television series but nonetheless, it got me to thinking.

What would be different if we dug deeper into our lexicon and discovered words that aligned more closely with what we were really trying to say rather than grabbing the first one that comes to mind? 

Or if we didn’t engage in using meaningless fillers - the ums and ahhs that save us from the uncomfortable awkward pauses or worse yet---  act like a kind of filibuster discouraging discourse and any chance of connection?

And why does the art of speaking refer only to public speaking? What about the art of speaking in everyday communication? 

In his book “The Four Agreements”,  Don Miguel Ruez says be impeccable with your word…Speak with integrity, honesty, and truthfulness and say only what you mean.

But unless we choose our words carefully, how are we able to do that?

We tell our children to “use your words” when they are upset. Studies show that giving words to feelings can make them become a lot less overwhelming or upsetting.  And evidence shows that “affect labeling,” can itself be a form of emotion regulation. 

As children we used more general words like happy mad sad but as adults, we have an ability to be more clear about what those words and feelings depict to us. Sad for me may not be the same as sad for you. A quick google of the synonym brings up all sorts of choices: unhappy, dejected, regretful, downhearted  and so on.

There is a thrill of finding the perfect fit to describe what you mean but if we don’t take the time to practice growing our vocabulary and then using our words, we won’t be able to access them under stress and will default to overused words forgoing any chance of original thought.….

Like anything worth developing, it takes courage and commitment and word shaming is real.  Have friends ever called you out when you’ve used a word you hadn’t used before and then teased you with “ooh that’s a big word”. I know I have. 

This kind of behavior discourages us from learning and scares us away from demonstrating new knowledge.I’m willing to wager that not one of us hasn’t come across a word that we’ve been saying wrong our whole life.

Some words are misused so often that their original meaning has changed over time. Awful, for example, originally meant  "inspiring reverential wonder, and “Terrific” meant "to inspire fear." but over time they’ve been used incorrectly so often that they now depict the exact opposite.

The good news is we have bountiful resources at our fingertips should we decide to use them. There really is no excuse for not using our words powerfully - there is an endless array to choose from so why not use your words and become your own thought leader. 

It occurs to me that words aren’t dissimilar from values in that you can either pay lip service to them or you can be fully connected to their meaning and why you chose them.….and like each one of us - words have origin stories!!! How cool is that?


I’m Lisa Hopkins, thanks for listening, stay safe and healthy everyone and remember to live in the moment (and to use your words!)