Language, words and stereotypes

“You probably will not go…”

Words, language carries power.  Can be used as a weapon.  Whether we intend to or not. Having a discussion is a two-way flow of words filled with meaning. The meaning of words is internalised by the listener. The listener then must sift and take what they understand from what was said including the actual words as well as body language.  Language influences people’s behaviour.

Language is the building blocks of our very existence. What do i mean? our thoughts and emotions are intangible. By speaking feelings like ‘I love you’ is giving these words an encasement and a body so they become a feeling. Because our emotions are processed internally no-one has access to our feelings but the individual, experiencing these emotions. Voicing our word then give structure to these utterances and it’s expressed into the outside world by nature of language and perception of the tone and context in narrative; be it is negative or positive. Once thoughts are verbalised there is no going back as the words are set in stone so to say and it forms the basis of the repertoire for future contact. It cements the foundation of communication. How and what we say to each other should be carefully considered. What we say and how we say can drastically change someone’s perception and even view on things. Our interpretation of our daily lives is based on who we believe we are. Using stereotypes, as a label, is lazy and ignorant.

This brings to mind the saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me’. Meaning that physical harm is more damaging than emotional trauma, but has been reported not to be true, as more harm is done psychologically than physically. People still struggle with psychological childhood trauma in adulthood. This idiom undermines the value people place on their self esteem more so if what’s been said is degrading and belittling to the receiver. Words have a lasting effect on your behaviour esp. words with a negative connotation.  How we navigate the world around us is influenced by our concept of the self. If I feel good about myself little can shake my self-worth, but when I’m feeling broken everything and anything will affect my state of mind. Be it intentional or not. (More so if you are in a place of enriching yourself with knowledge! Nobody wants to feel undervalued just because of this or the other reason. When you are in a position of authority you are expected to know better… Sounds condescending does it not? Simply because you are a leader in a subject does not mean you have absolution for what you say. We all have to take responsibility of what we say, do and project. Been a leader means people look up to you for guidance, your opinion counts as it is an expectation to create an environment conducive for learning. What you say and do consolidate what the learner is taught.

A favourite quote of mine is from Confuscious: “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” It is much easier to be guard of your own thoughts than to be lectured for wrong doing. Taking time to think what you say to others shows great maturity of mind and emotion as this is evidence of analytic thinking. Inspecting your thougths before uttering them takes patience but it is most rewarding as it can avoid unnecessary strife and conflict. The manner in which we speak to each other sets a trend for future endeavours. If at your first meeting you come across as shy or extroverted that is how you will be remembered and people will treat you in a way that is befitting to how you made them feel. If you come across as opiniated and ignorant, the law of reciprocation will be applied. Been thoughtful does not just apply to one person but it applies to both parties to be able to have a meaningful conversation. Leaning your ears out to stereotypes means you don’t want to know about the other person nor are you interested in learning new mindsets.

Be mindful of cliches , take care when using stereotypes and always imagine yourself in their shoes. How you lay your foundation will affect the building. In the construction world there is a commonly known phrase “the depth of your foundation decides the potential of the building”, if your foundation is of poor quality the house will not stand, if the foundation is shallow the house will not be very tall….

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