Boss Lady

Language: A bridge or a weapon?


Most of us communicate with words. Often, we don’t give it too much thought and say what’s on our mind. Then there are the times when we want to choose our words carefully. This could be talking to an angry or upset customer, a stranger, or in a discussion. We can use our words to build a bridge towards mutual understanding and respect or we can use them to attack someone.

Attack is easy. Anyone can do that and, even great words, spoken with a derisive undertone can become a weapon. Gossiping or judging others is a guaranteed way to use words as a weapon. Building a bridge for mutual understanding requires much more. Among other things, it requires a great vocabulary, sensitivity, and the willingness to build that bridge, to name just a few.

Here are 5 tips to help you use language to build a bridge towards more open, respectful conversations with others.

1. Listening

Truly listen to what the other person is saying. So often we are busy formulating a response or, worse, our minds are somewhere totally different, while pretending to listen. Think back to a time when someone was fully present with you, totally listening to what you said. Were you somehow aware of it? How did it feel being heard? What if you give that same gift to the people you are having a conversation with? Truly listening is a gift!

2. Words and language

Words have a vibration. To perceive this vibration, all you have to do is be willing to perceive it. I am a former math teacher. Even 10 years ago, when people talked about energy, I did not perceive any of it. Yet, as a child, I did perceive the vibration of words without cognitively being aware of it. When you are fully present, you can’t help but perceive the vibration.

3. Interested versus interesting

Let’s put to use what was said just above. Can you perceive the difference between the two words? If you are interested in the other person, you will ask questions of them to learn about them. In that you are building a bridge. Interesting has more to do with oneself, desiring to show what an interesting person you are. The focus is on self instead of on the other. Building a bridge requires one to be interested in the other person.

4. Engagement

Engagement is the result of you being interested. It leads to saying what the other person can hear, not necessarily what you want them to hear. When you are engaging another person, there is no need on your part to persuade or to convert. When you simply have an open conversation with someone, they are free to listen and engage with what you are saying as well.

5. Asking questions

Under Interested versus Interesting, we talked about asking questions of another person. It’s equally important to ask yourself questions. Through schooling, we are taught that a question has an answer. That is not the kind of question that will give you an awareness. The questions you are looking for are “open ended” questions. Here are a few examples.

  • How does it get any better than this?
  • What can I be or do different?
  • What do I desire?
  • What contribution can I be?
  • What else is possible?

As much as the above suggestions are helpful, building a bridge depends on your willingness to do so. This means there is no need for you to be right or convince someone and the true desire is to hear what the other person has to say. This does not mean you have to adopt the point of view the other has. You just have to have a grasp of it

Conversation has the power to create: it creates understanding, ideas and possibilities. Fighting or the desire to be right, on the other hand, does not create, but separates people instead.

About Corinna Stoeffl'

Corinna Stoeffl is a counsellor, life coach, photographer, author and Right Voice for You facilitator. An Access Consciousness facilitator and mother of two, Corinna’s whirlwind and diverse career path has equipped her with a unique skill set and an incredible sense of self-awareness and wisdom, which she shares with her clients, and children. Having always felt “different” and struggling to fit in, Corinna’s journey to self-acceptance culminated in her current career as a Right Voice for You facilitator, helping others find their voice, appreciate their unique qualities and use them to their advantage in life, relationships and career. Corinna recently contributed a chapter to the collaborative book Voices of the 21st Century.

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