The words you choose are important. They are not just throwaways used to express your brilliant thoughts. They are open to interpretation. Their meanings change depending on the context. They are the difference from someone thinking you are awesome or an asshole. Brilliant or idiotic. Trustworthy or sketchy.
Words trigger emotional reactions from the recipient. Those reactions are based on the context that the listener has constructed. Things like memories, the situation and other people in the room all influence that context. The emotions formed from those words interpreted in that context influence how people perceive what you’re saying. It can work for you. Or it can work against you.
The words you use define the tone of the conversation. And that tone influences how receptive people are to that communication. Are you being combative or collaborative? Are you being manipulative or sincere? Are you being straightforward or rude?
Let’s take an example of starting a conversation with a stranger. You ask, “How’s it going?”
That’s a pretty basic introduction. You’re asking someone an open ended question that could lead to a conversation. But then, what if you opened with “What’s crack-a-lacking?” It provides the same open ended opportunity as before, but it adds personality and charm. It gives this complete stranger a sense of who you are as a character as well as the tone of the conversation that you want to engage in. Instead of being awkward and polite, the tone is now lighthearted and fun. With a different choice of words, you are able to communicate the same message but with a vastly different tone and outcome.
Words are the key tools used to communicate your message. Make sure that you’re using the right ones. Don’t try to hammer a nail with a shovel – it may work eventually, but not the way you want it to.