Words mean things.
I saw a commercial the other day and cringed at the choice of one word – “couldn’t”. The ad was about texting and driving and building another movement against it. No issue there. Heck, maybe we could even find an app that monitors car movement and zaps anyone who tries to text at the obvious wrong time! My issue is the choice of wording in one simple sentence, which says that people “couldn’t” put their phone down. It may sound trite, but there is something wrong with our paradigm if we choose that word, or even hear it in that context, and miss its implication.
Couldn’t. Or maybe better, wouldn’t. Now that’s more like it.
One suggests we are the victim. It’s outside our control. How much success can we really have with things outside our control? It’s a poor paradigm from which to change behavior.
The other suggests ownership. And thereby gives over control. How much success can we really have with things within our control? Tons! It’s the right paradigm from which to change behavior.
Consider your words in the next few days. How many times do you choose words that divert ownership, give up control and leave you the victim? If we had the ability to record every word, then do a “find and replace”, I wonder how much positive change would occur? Here are two words I suggest we find and replace over the next 30 days – couldn’t vs wouldn’t and can’t vs won’t. Change the words, and you’ll begin to change your outcomes.
Keep in mind that our words precede our actions. We think. We say. We do. And then think again. Sometimes changing our thinking, while critically important, can be slippery. So perhaps the best way to influence behavior is to change our words – it’ll change our actions and eventually be a roundabout way to change our thinking.
Moving forward, let’s speak with ownership in our words. Speak like a victor, not a victim.