Have you ever wanted to hurl some hate speech at someone? Or do you fantasize about slamming your neighbor with a few expletives?
Our language is a powerful tool. But, instead of slamming people, it pays to use our words wisely. Keep this in mind: Your voice is an important asset. Correctly used, your voice is your inner power. It is your protection against mega-stress.
You will feel your power, if you know your speech is finely tuned like an instrument. Above all, try to come across as a thoughtful, educated individual.
“We all need to talk our way into someone’s heart, convince the bank to give us a loan occasionally, and verbally protect ourselves when we’re called into court,” says a speech coach we’ll call Cynthia.
“I teach people how to speak in public, but I also help them learn to speak intelligently under all types of circumstances,” she points out.
Cynthia should know. She recently coached a critical, verbally outrageous friend of hers who was running for public office.
“His heart was right, but his verbal attacks were all wrong,” laughs Cynthia. “I helped him slow down, think about his words and take control. He won the election.”
Speaking intelligently will help your marriage, your friendships, and your career moves. It’s possible to get your points across, address the underlying problems, and show people you are qualified to assume leadership in a given situation.
These tips can help:
n Pretend you’re being videoed for the six o’clock news. Do say, “I want to point out why I support this specific change.” Don’t say, “I want to point out why those who disagree with me are crazy.”
n Speak your emotions. Don’t act them out. Say, “I am extremely upset, and I can’t allow this behavior to go on.” Don’t say, “I’m ready to kick up some violence.” It’s tough to walk back ugly language.
n Choose some professional language. If things are rocky at work, say, “Maybe a mediator could help us define ways to improve our work methods.” Don’t say, “We gotta kick some of these fools out of here!”
A business owner we’ll call Brett says his grandfather founded his family business 80 years ago. His grandfather gave weekly pep talks about thinking and speaking intelligently.
“Granddad taught us to use trying times to practice bringing brainpower to the table,” laughs Brett. “The crazier the situation, the better was the opportunity to govern ourselves.”
Practicing smooth speech and intelligent remarks will ensure you won’t get too nervous under pressure. Remember: You’ll blurt out what feels normal to you when the heat is on.
For example, if someone got upset with you, what would you say back? Using your imagination, try rehearsing an appropriate remark.
These remarks might work for you: “I know you’re upset, but calm down and we’ll talk.” “You’re pushing all my buttons. I take offense at some of your language.” “We’re both adults here. Let’s not act out craziness on each other.”
The point is that you want to speak up for yourself. But you don’t want to ignite an explosion. State your feelings in a mature way.
“I recently gave one of my deserving sales reps a big bonus,” says an executive we’ll call Thomas. “This guy, whom I’ll call Ray, was brilliant under fire. He was verbally attacked by a client in our office one afternoon.”
Thomas summarizes: “Ray told the attacker to calm down, take a breath, and tell us his problem in detail. We got an apology, some clarity, and ended up landing a big sale. Intelligent language steers us to good outcomes.”
Judi Light Hopson is author of the stress management book, “Cooling Stress Tips.” She is also executive director of USA Wellness Cafe at www.usawellnesscafe.org.