Words matter, especially in the world of politics. Unfortunately, broken promises and offensive quotes are all too common. As the election season gets underway, let’s remember to stay mindful of our words, no matter which side of the aisle we’re on.
Most of us grew up with the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But is there any truth in it?
A German study has found that pain-related words do in fact hurt us. In the study, participants were scanned with an MRI as they were presented with pain-related words. The results of the MRI found that “words alone are capable of activating our pain matrix,” (the pain-processing cortexes in our brains). According to one of the researchers, Professor Thomas Weiss, “verbal stimuli have a more important meaning than [what has been] thought so far.”
Our words and our actions matter—we should not take the things people say about ourselves or others lightly. Here are a few tips for mindful communication.
4 Tips for Mindful Conversations
- Listen. Listening is key for mindful conversations. Keep your mind attuned to the other person and put your feelings and thoughts aside for a moment to focus completely on them. Your body language is also an important part of listening, so give them your undivided attention and try not to fidget.
- “Think before you speak.” Unlike the “sticks and stones” rhyme, this old proverb still rings true. Sometimes we say things we wish we hadn’t simply because we feel rushed or hate pregnant pauses. Embrace small moments of silence. As the study stated, your words do matter, so take great care of what you say.
- Be considerate. There has been some talk recently about the dangers of “political correctness.” People believe that political correctness threatens free speech, but you’re really just being respectful. And studies show that being “PC” actually provides a “normative foundation” for free exchanges. In short, be kind to others.
- Find common ground. No matter how different we are there is always common ground that we can share. Use the things you have in common as a springboard for your conversation. You’ll feel connected in your communication in no time.