The power of words is multiplied as the spoken word multiplies… often having consequences far beyond what the speaker intended.
You've heard stories about, and maybe even been affected by, the power of gossip and rumors. You probably have experience with someone letting something slip to someone they shouldn't have, where it came back to bite you. You've even heard of the power of "word of mouth" when it comes to advertising or gaining customers. These are all some of the more obvious signs of the power of the spoken word.
The spoken word is of immense power. Something you mention off-hand can completely alter the course of the life of someone who hears it… even someone who overhears it. You might mention to your friend as you're walking that you're tired of having to deal with one of your vendors, and someone you're passing by right at that moment may hear you and start a company to compete with that vendor, eventually becoming the biggest company in that industry… all because of your off-hand comment.
That is the power of the word with an individual. But the REAL power of the spoken word is that it multiplies. You tell one person something, and they pass on what they heard… which is NOT necessarily the same thing that you said. This often happens whether you want it to or not.
What that means is that you really need to watch what you say. People around you will remember what you say even after you've forgotten that you ever said it. Not only that, but they will pass it on, either through actual words, or through the way their behavior is modified because your words altered their perceptions of whatever you were talking about.
Tying this back to a recent article of mine, 8 Ways To Show Your Husband You Love Him, one of the very common, very nasty examples of this is when one spouse goes into detail about the faults of the other with friends and family. Many times, they even seem to enjoy getting as low as they can, reporting even things that are temporary or very private (ie "He's insecure about his competency when it comes to his job"… that sort of thing is told with the expectation of privacy, and should not be passed along). You can easily predict what this is going to do to the way the people hearing it view the object of the conversation. This effect is, of course, even stronger when the words are repeated, first of all by the original speaker, and then afterward by those who hear it among themselves and others.
Every spoken word affects every person who hears it. The amount it affects them is, to be honest, completely unpredictable to the speaker. It might be something they dismiss immediately, which never even gets committed to long-term memory. On the other hand, the smallest thing can trigger massive surges of thoughts and feelings in someone, for reasons the speaker may know nothing about.
It even affects the person doing the speaking. Saying something makes you think about it, and makes you give a concept the extra attention necessary to break it into things that can be communicated in words. That extra attention gives it more importance to your subconscious, as well as making you think about each of the individual components, not just the overall concept. That can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what it is, and what your perception of that is. In other words, if you are communicating your idea for a new business, and speaking about it causes you to break it down into components, which you then think about, that is probably a good thing… it clarifies your idea and makes it more concrete. On the other hand, if what you are communicating is how your wife never does this or that, and you then break that down into details (even if it's only in your mind, not communicated), then you are adding negative thoughts and emotions not only to your life in general at that point, but also to your overall perception of your wife, so that those thoughts and emotions weigh, however slightly, every time you think about your wife.
The moral of this story is to be very careful what you say. Communication is a great thing, especially when it is both useful and effective. Communicating negative things, however, unless it is a needed warning, usually has more of a net harm than benefit. That is, warning someone of something negative that affects them is good. Reporting something negative to someone who it doesn't affect, however, generally causes more harm than good, as it makes you think more about those negative things yourself, thus emphasizing them in your perceptions, and possibly altering the listener's perception of the object of your conversation in a negative, unnecessary, and quite possibly unjustified way.
As I said in the beginning, the power of words is multiplied as the spoken word multiplies… often having consequences far beyond what the speaker intended.
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