The Power of Language

Many scholars have studied the power and impact words have on individuals, societies, cultures, and the evolution of  the human condition. Most of you know the love affair I have with words. Whether they be in the form of poetry, screenplays, novels, biographies, or simple exchanges between two people, languages speak volumes (no pun intended) about who we are, where we are, what we value, and where we are going. Words can inspire. Words can hurt. Words can empower. Words can steer nations. Words can lead companies, organizations, and teams to places they never dreamed of going.

Think of the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King. Think of the John F. Kennedy speech inspiring us to put a man on the moon. Think of Ronald Reagan’s speech assuring and comforting us after the Challenger disaster.

What did these speeches have in common? What role did images, word selection, tone, and emphasis have in these addresses? What healing power did these words bestow on the listeners? What do we use in our language when addressing our teams, our companies, and our stakeholders to inspire, lead, and empower?  How can we use language in our daily interactions to show our authenticity and build followers through this approach?

“The power of words is immense. A well-chosen word had often sufficed to stop a flying army, to change defeat into victory, and to save an empire.” ~ Emile de Girardin