Words: Their Power, Use, and Meaning

What power do words hold?

Words can be far more powerful than most people realize.  Although the famous saying says “action speak louder than words”, I beg to differ.  I truly believe that problems can be solved with words, with no harsh actions needed.  For example, instead of fighting with people, I use my words to get my messages across.  There is no need for violence or harsh actions; to get  point across, all that is needed are two things.  First, a person must voice their opinion and their side of the story.  Second, the other person must listen to them and take what they say into consideration.  In this way, people can get their inner thoughts out and heard so that others can better understand where they’re coming from.

For more on this topic, watch Jeff Perera’s Tedx Talk about when words speak louder than actions.  I found it to be fairly inspirational and truthful.


Do people always say what they mean and mean what they say?

It is important to take into consideration that not everything someone says is true.  Children are notorious for telling small white lies to get out of trouble with their parents for actions such as breaking household items or completing their homework.  People both young and old also use words on a daily basis to over exaggerate stories to make them sound more interesting.  On the larger scale, people can also make larger lies on anything from saying they completed a task when they didn’t to denying they committed a crime.  Either way, it must be taken into consideration when talking to others that not everything they say will be true, as words can be manipulated to hide actions and thoughts.

Sometimes people want to say something, but they are too afraid to.  As a result, they say something else that has less meaning or a different meaning entirely.  There are countless instances in which someone may cover up what they want to say for different reasons.  For example, if a person seems distressed, one of their friends may ask them “are you okay?” Although they may feel the opposite, the person may say things such as “yes, I’m just tired” to cover up how they truly feel so that don’t make others sad.

The following video is a more comical outlook on what people do when they say something but mean something else via texting.


Sometimes people want to say things that they are too afraid to say.  When people bottle in their feelings for too long, it builds up until they want to spill everything they’ve been holding in for so long.  However, they may not know who to talk to, and become distressed from the lack of communication and not knowing where to go.  Other times, it’s just the aspect of speaking that is difficult.  For example, in my classes when students are having discussions, I struggle to put my input into the conversation.  Although I may have good ideas, I fear that other people will have things to say that are better and what I say will be overlooked or ignored.  Also, because I get stage fright and resulting anxiety over public speaking, I find it extremely difficult to force myself to speak.  Although it may be as simple as reading off a single sentence from my paper in French class, I still panic when everyone turns around to look at me and my words get caught in my throat.

When people do speak up, people may not even listen to them.  The character Holden from the Catcher in the Rye is known for going off on tangents and having no one listen to him.  He becomes frustrated and holds everything in, living a life of hate towards most things because few people act how he wishes they would.  He calls people phonies and complains about how no one cares about anything but themselves.  Despite his contempt towards others, the reader can’t help but wonder if sometimes he says things that he doesn’t mean.  When the goes off on a tangent about his friends, teachers, and family, he may possibly say these things out of jealousy, rather than pure disdain.

This also leads into another problem, which is hypocrisy.  This is an issue that is familiar to most people.  It can be easy to complain about something, but sometimes we forget that we are guilty of making the same mistakes.  For example, a person may complain about how one of their classmates goes off on unimportant tangents and talks during class.  However, this same person may forget to take into consideration that they are doing the same exact thing, sitting in a classroom and talking hypocritically about someone else.

Another problem with language is that sometimes people mean to say something but their words come out wrong.  As a result, their meaning gets changed and they may offend someone as a result.  Those who text frequently are very familiar to this issue, as without body language and tone of voice, it is very easy for what someone says to be misinterpreted.  Something as simple as “haha” can be taken as a sarcastic and offensive remark in reply to a joke that was told.  When people overanalyze what people say, there’s a large chance that they will get the message wrong.  Despite this, the majority of people are guilty of doing this on a guilty basis, as when we can’t see into somebody else’s mind, we tend to make assumptions, whether they be correct or not.

Conclusion

My final conclusion on this issue is that words can be far more powerful than actions if they are used right.  Although we are told that “actions speak a thousand words”, perhaps words hold the power to speak a thousand actions.  There can be countless misinterpretations when people say something that they don’t mean or don’t mean something that they say, but overall words are powerful and can shape who a person is.

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