Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Power of Communication

Words have power. Use yours wisely.

Words can hurt. Words can heal. Words can destroy. Words can build. Words can sting. Words can excite. Words can sooth. Words can bite.

But words can’t be deleted. They live forever in the memory of someone you spoke to, the cache of someone’s computer, in a Google search, in an inbox or on a Facebook page.
Every day, men and women use thousands of words to communicate their thoughts, actions and feelings. But do we think about the impact those words could have on those we direct them towards? If you are being honest with yourself, the answer is probably, no.

I felt the power of positive words today. A simple email, from an unexpected source, brightened my entire day. Three little words; “Thanks, you rock.” It left me with a smile on my face. That same person earlier in the day had emailed me and had some bad news, but even in the way she worded it, I knew that it would be OK. We won’t always agree and we won’t always have a positive message, but bringing up negative points in a positive way can move everyone forward together.

We might say, life is busy and we don’t have time for niceties or you might say, I was angry and they needed to know it. But if you think about it, in the time it took for you to say something negative and elicit a likely negative response, you could have said something positive and gotten a positive response.

Another email today set me on the war path. I couldn’t believe the tone that was taken, the back-handed compliment, the condescension that oozed from every word of the author. It would have been easy to reply with an equally snarky and passive aggressive tone, but I took the advice of a wise woman. I counted to 10, OK, I counted to 50, then I took a walk, then I got a coffee and then I responded to the email. I decided the high road was the path less taken and I took it. I thanked this person for their insight, I assured them that the proper steps were being taken and I welcomed further comments. You know what happened next? I got an apology. 

Sometimes in our need to “be heard” we are heard in a way we’d never want to be.
Dr. Susanne Gaddis, CEO of "The Communications Doctor," says that life is about creating better moments. (see YouTube link here: )
Those moments are created every three to six seconds and can either enhance your life, detract from it or leave you no worse for the wear. Your interactions with people, your words and your non-verbal communications are what determine, what kind of moment you will create.
Delta Gamma is about “Do Good;” two simple words that can create layers and layers of hope, education, courage, commitment and strength. Two words that can go further than you think. Two words that if lived day in and day out, can create a sisterhood that everyone will want to emulate.

When the bombs went off in Boston, we learned that a Delta Gamma sister was among those hurt. She and her newly-wed husband both lost limbs in the explosion that shook our entire nation. In the hours and days following the explosion, this sister’s friends started a fund that has grown to nearly $1 million. Delta Gammas from around the country wrote messages of Hope and Courage to her while she recovers and collegiate and alumnae chapters in Boston reached out to this sister during her time of need. The power to "Do Good" will always triumph over the power of evil, just like the power of positive words will always triumph over negative.

I offer you this challenge. The next time you speak to a friend, sister, colleague or family member, think about the words that you want to use. What outcome will your words get you? Words have power. Use yours wisely.

A Crash Course in Communications:

Mary Ellen Hardies is the Director of Communications for Delta Gamma Fraternity. She is a sister of Phi Mu's Ohio University chapter. You can reach her at

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for these words. This is something that all our members need to be aware of, and you put it out brilliantly.