The older I get and the more mindful and self-aware I become, the more this concept resonates: Words have the power to give life or take life.
When I exert a genuine effort and make time to choose my words carefully, I’m humbled by what flows from within. When I choose the alternative – speaking before I think – impatiently and without humility, feelings of emptiness, incongruence and turmoil course through me.
I often find myself wondering how many others contemplate this.
Please understand – I’m not claiming to be perfect (I abandoned my perfectionist quest about the time Mother Nature, cattle and horses became my work companions at the ranch). What I am claiming, however, is a mindfulness about the power of words and the impact they have.
As life happens, I found myself at the national AgChat conference earlier this month in Nashville. Iowa Corn was generous enough to sponsor two other Iowa bloggers and me. It was my first time at such an event and I continue to be amazed by the experience. The AgChat committee empowered attendees with relevant and inspiring topics and cultivated an atmosphere of learning that left positive, long-lasting impressions on both presenters and attendees.
Among the most memorable topics covered at the conference was that of creating content. No matter the purpose or avenue for the content, attendees were encouraged to create content with a humble heart.
Please stop, take a deep breath and ‘be’ for a moment while I repeat myself: Create content with a humble heart.
What does that really mean?
I believe it means a handful of things:
1. Understand your audience
When I “agvocate” for ag, it’s imperative for me to remember that 98 percent of U.S. residents live in urban and suburban environments, not rural space where 2 percent of the population raises and grows food. The 98 percent don’t know what they don’t know. To make matters more interesting, 70 percent of misinformation about food comes from Facebook. As an “agvocate” my job is to meet this 98 percent in a place of dignity in the space they exist in with message strategies that educate.
2. Learn the real questions
One of my favorite sayings is “Listening is a verb, not a noun.” How often do we show up in other’s space claiming to listen when our minds are elsewhere? Too often, we miss what people are really saying. Make the choice to listen actively and slow your mind down enough to engage. You will discover unspoken nuggets of information.
3. Craft simple and truthful answers
Trying to impress others with big, fancy-sounding words is a waste of energy. Plus, it ostracizes others. Talk in a way that engages and invites. Be genuine and heartfelt to foster connections.
4. Perform a tone check
Tone (whether verbal or written) often has the greatest impact on how an interaction turns out. Be mindful of yours and avoid taking other’s tone personally. Choosing a softer voice changes the trajectory of any conversation.
5. Be cognizant of non-verbal communication
93 percent of communication is non-verbal. Isn’t that incredible? Have you ever considered the impact of your facial expressions and body language when communicating with others?
I’d love to continue the conversation and learn your thoughts about whether your words give or take life. I invite you to share your thoughts by commenting on this blog post. I look forward to hearing from you!