Someone said something to me at my leaving work do on Friday evening that really cut through to my core and succeeded in making me feel inadequate, angry and upset. This was followed by a heated argument with my partner over the phone (and then the battery dying). What should have been a day of celebration with my soon-to-be former work colleagues ended up pretty darn dreadful. That is, apart from some words of wisdom from my lovely friend Ben which succeeded in cheering me up and redeeming some of the day for me (whilst we sipped champagne looking out over the river).
As you can imagine, I’ve done a lot of thinking this weekend about what I was told, about the argument, and about the advise I was given from my friend. And then I’ve done more thinking – psycho-analysing and trying to interpret what was said. This resulted in my stomach twisting into knots also. I sit here now, after having done more thinking (and having had a conversation with my partner), feeling a lot more rational, but with a really tight neck and one hell of a head ache.
Why did I let this all affect me so? It’s a Sunday evening and I’m exhausted. I know I should learn to develop that thicker skin people always tell me about, but I also think when I do that I will lose part of who I am. I also know that my partner and I are stressed, and we are just taking it out on each other (I was to blame for the argument, although we both ended up saying some rotten stuff). Sometimes we just don’t realise the impact a few words can have, and the power behind what it is that we say. It can be like punching someone in the gut, and them being winded. It really pays to stop and have a good think about what it is we really want to say, or about how the things we say could be interpreted, as more times than not we do end up hurting the ones we love.
Words can strengthen or alter the meaning of what we are trying to convey. We may mean well, but the outcome can be far from what was envisioned. Words can end in heartbreak and sadness, they can end or make a career, or on the flip side they can lead to power and happiness.
Mark Twain captures it beautifully –
‘The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.’