Unleashing Your Extraordinary WordPower with Authenticity

Lately, I have been hearing many people in the spoken, and written word chastise others in their use of language. I find it amusing because these very people often look down at “the others” who may not be as erudite and eloquent but at least honest. If you listen carefully, which is an expectation in my lifelong profession, you often hear through the words. In other words, speaking of words, you look beneath the surface. Unfortunately, not every therapist does, and all of us, periodically, have been fooled. The general population frequently prefers style over substance. It is most alluring, but so weren’t the mythical Sirens.

Disturbingly, we are living in times where the so-called enlightened ones judge those who may utilize the wrong word. In their phenomenal sophistication, the Illuminati, accuse the Neanderthal or, maybe Cro-Magnon, of being closed-minded.

With their willingness to reveal their infinite wisdom, these evolved Homo Sapiens will lead the pitiful ignoramuses to the promised land.

How is that for words? Do I sound elitist? Yes, indeed, which is my point. Any of us can use words, and like many, I appreciate the beautiful application of language. When it lacks authenticity, however, I glaze over.

Words are powerful. Whether you are a therapist who must listen meticulously, a speaker or writer who wishes to educate, engage, entertain, or all three, or communicating constructively in your personal life, words have an impact.

I thought it would be essential to discuss three salient points when it comes to words:

Words Are Like Fine Surgery.

During graduate school, I had a supervisor with whom I was not particularly enamored. She said something, however, that I never forgot. “Words are like fine surgery,” seared in my brain. To this day, I remind myself of this statement and share it with many of my clients.

Several years ago, a client of mine came to a session and announced she was pregnant. At the time, this lovely person was not in a situation where this news was a happy given. I looked at her and said, “Is this a congratulation or not?” She thanked me for posing the question but assured me it was. Handling such sensitive issues must be done with utmost care. There are many other examples I could provide, as I am sure you could.

Less Is More

After a long-winded discourse, this individual let us know there was nothing new but thought they should notify us anyway.

I have been in several meetings over the years where there is a usurper. Their loquacity has no bounds, and either they are unaware or do not care about the input from others. I will never forget a few years ago during a meeting which required my attendance, one person who always talked incessantly about, well, nothing, decided to update us about something. After a long-winded discourse, this individual let us know there was nothing new but thought they should notify us anyway. The same person did not acquiesce to the time limits accepted by others. Many quietly agreed this person was repetitive but simply had to be tolerated. No one would whisper in their ear, “Less is more.”

Less can also be more with the written word. Some puff pieces seem to be just that. I wonder, “What is the profundity of this message that eludes me?”   Eventually, I conclude, “Nothing.” As an independent thinker, I want to say, “Get to the point,” or “What is the point?” I remind myself, however, to practice what I preach with less being more. Subsequently, I ignore and refrain from verbalizing any of these thoughts.

Less Is Not More

There are times when silence is not golden, and less is not more. Think about a time when you dared to share something with another person, and the response was not positive. For example, you confide in someone, and they either say nothing, change the subject, or talk about someone who endured a similar situation. All of us know what that feels like, don’t we? Many people are often uncomfortable with something revealing, unexpected, or too close to home. My unsolicited advice is, if you do not know how to respond, say, “I do not know what to say, but I am sorry,” or “…if there is anything I can do to be of help, please let me know.” Indeed, I do not suggest you parrot me but use language that resonates with you.

Most importantly, be authentic. Otherwise, there is no purpose to verbalize empty, gushing words. Most recipients of such shallowness will not trust you going forward. Being authentic, even tripping over your own words, can create a positive outcome beyond your wildest imagination. Think “Butterfly Effect.”

What About You?

What are your thoughts about words? Do you believe that words can be like delicate surgery? Are there times that you see where less can be more? Have you ever been subjected to the sting where less is not more? I invite you to think about this and, if you would like, share your reflections.


Darlene Corbett
Darlene Corbett
Darlene Corbett views herself as a life-long learner, a pursuer of excellence, a work-in-progress, and a seeker-of-the-truth. She is also referred to as the "Unstuck Expert" in her many roles. Why? Because for over thirty years, she has been assisting people to get unstuck. Darlene's primary roles are now Therapist, Hypnotherapist, and Author/Writer. Although she loves speaking, it is now secondary and done mainly through her podcast, "Get Unstuck Now. Because of her wealth of experience, Darlene began putting her thoughts on paper.  Many of her blogs can also be found on Medium, Sixty and Me, and Penning these articles set the stage for her first book, "Stop Depriving The World of You," traditionally published by Sound Wisdom. Being a believer in pushing oneself as long as one has life, Darlene has tried her hand at fiction, hoping to have something completed in the no-so-distant future. Over the years, Darlene has been described as animated or effervescent which contradicts the perception of a psychotherapist. She firmly believes in the importance of being authentic and discusses platinum-style authenticity in her book.

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  1. Darlene, To say the very least; thought provoking. So many ways of looking at words and their makeup. I know of a phrase, ‘communicate with a ratio of two ears and one mouth’. To be honest, when writing ‘from the heart’ I can loose track of reality and when re-reading the text, wonder who had written it!

    I do ‘write for England’! Whether more is less or less is more, it depends on one’s style of writing. When writing a quarterly article for a community magazine, I am limited to around 350 words. Challenging, but similar to having a 50km per hour limit on a racing car! One thing I have learned (I do listen, ask advice and take on board advice) is to use the word ‘the’ as little as possible. Writing is a way similar to painting. Inspiration required. But asking for genuine feed-back; criticism is so valuable but people are often concerned of causing offence.

    When writing articles/essays, I joke that I use more adjectives than necessary. I recognize the manner of some phrases you quote in your article. I do love words that are not always used; not to show off, because the whole idea of writing is so the person reading it can not only understand it but feel they are part of, or ‘living’ the description. Writing to ‘put someone down’ or showing off should never be countenanced.

    I have quite a number of letters published in a regional newspaper. Such letters have t be to the point and relatively brief. Good practice. I have a letter in today’s Daily Telegraph; again, brief and to the point. So that’s the contrast; Brevity or expansive descriptions!

    The style of writing can be adapted to an individual one is writing to (e.g. a letter) as writing an extremely and overly ‘sophisticated’ text would be seen as an insult; taking the mickey. This does not mean that the letter be written in a form that only uses short words, but contains a gentle eloquence that resonates with the reader.

    Essentially I love descriptive, from the heart writing. I guess that’s my style, but I value constructive advice (and of course praise; good for male ego!).

    Well, Darlene, there we are! Thank you for your article. Indeed it is to say the least, thought provoking.

  2. Hi Darlene,
    I am so sorry for the delay, but most important: I did not forget you!
    Thank you so much for the tag-invite for this great share.
    Yes, it’s absolutely a topic many of us sometimes struggle or when in the flow, the words just keep coming.
    As a kindness&compassion follower for many years now, I choose my words always on that track.
    Even when I disagree in a conversation I still disagree in a very kind way. I am very aware of the fact not let my ego get in the way, but to be and stay my authentic self. Words can be very comforting and have a healing effect. Or sometimes when we need to know “what lies beneath” as a therapist you sense that and know which keywords to use to get things in the open. The most magic moments with words I experience is, the moment when we don’t need words, just our being is enough and the silence is “speaking”.
    Thank you Darlene!

  3. Beautiful Darlene,

    I felt completely lost in your words, and overwhelmed by the honestly and truthfulness of each one of them in a mesmerizing way… If I may add something here, I’d say words can indeed be gems 💎 we treasure for a life-time or arms leaving deep scars and requiring all our attention if we are still not aware of the fact what people say or do tells much more about who they are than it does about us… Worst case scenario, shallow words said in a desperate trial to confirm the false image we create for ourselves. What many ignore, though, is that whenever we become truly self-aware and fully integrated, we can feel the manipulation in our heart (our purest gut) even we still don’t see a clear inconsistency… Thanks for this masterpiece my friend; I had a blast today reading you! 💙🧚‍♀️💜

    • Thank you my dear Myriam! I love the way you “worded” this. Speaking of words, you are amazing (I love that word) with your words. Your beautiful comment just gave me inspiration about how I might word my next article. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Also, when I take a breath, I want to read your articles with their psychological acumen and gorgeous use of language.

  4. The way we talk has a strong impact on our ability to succeed and be happy in life, even though most people are not aware of this and much less intentionally choose the words they use every day.
    Normally we don’t pay much attention to the words we use. We tend to believe that we choose them at random, as required by the circumstances, but in reality it has been shown that everyone has a unique way of speaking, as if it were a “verbal trace”.
    Without a doubt, words have a strong impact because they not only serve to describe the world but also end up creating our own. The wrong words have the power to bring us down, but the right ones can inspire us, lift us up and push us and revolutionize our lives.

    • Thank you as always Aldo for your thoughtful comments. Yes, words are amazing. All of us have been culpable at some point in our life of saying something insensitive. In my humble but strong belief is that all of us must aspire to be the best we can even with words. Again, I appreciate your comments.

  5. Darlene,
    It’s always great to read about words…
    They are a tool in humanity meant to help us communicate.
    We learn along the way how these tools work and also learn from others use of these tools.
    Some use with great skill and ability, others are foolish and less admirable.
    We will see many directions from the words what we are exposed to. Hopefully we stumble upon the ones that make a better impact. There are times no words will have the same impact.
    I like to think that we learn when less is best, and more is needed.
    How they are said and the language used is imperative.

    I have quoted in the past..which I had to go find….lol…
    “Genius might be the ability to say
    A profound thing in a simple way.” Charles Bukowsko, Poet, Novelist, 1920-1994
    So for me…
    Big words mean nothing to people who do not understand them

    Communication via words is powerful, how you deliver them or just listen to them has the power of impact. The direct correlation that can be rooted in the development of a life so to speak.
    We take in the ones that hammer, and this stays with you forever.
    A few chosen words can really lift you up or rip you apart.
    One word can save or kill a life. They are crucial.
    The power in one word can change everything.
    The impact of words replay in your mind, long after they have been said. This is powerful.

    Thanks for this… sorry I went rambling here…
    I do that sometimes…
    Truly love your words Darlene. Thank you my lady.

  6. “Less is more” and “less is not more” – this whole contradiction – sums up words for me Darlene. I’ve evolved. At one time, I would correct people’s grammar when they spoke to me. (Wow, that is arrogant). Now I listen for the meaning, even when they use a double negative incorrectly. Because the meaning of what they are saying is important. I’ve said that using proper grammar and usage can make what you say/mean more effective.
    Words can be healing and hurting, they can build and destroy, praise and condemn….. I think you get the picture. But I like the “surgery” analogy. That was an interesting way of putting it. Thank you.

  7. Darlene–What a thought-provoking essay that has me thinking about words, their use, the emotions wrapped around words, what words often point to that can not be expressed with words. As someone who loves words, I’ve experienced all these scenarios-times in which I struggled to “land the plane” and kept the listener wondering “What’s her point?” I’ve been the silent one, unwilling to say anything for fear of verbal attack or worse. Less or silence may not be more-I think knowing who you are interacting with can make a huge difference-what’s the context, your relationship with the person. We use different words in different settings-we share different content depending on the person-and the relationship-stranger, colleague, client, boss, best friend, family member, spouse…

    I even wonder if “words create worlds.” because I imagine visionaries, leaders like Nelson Mandela, Dr. King Jr., Gandhi, and Mother Teresa knew how powerful spoken words can be alongside conscious actions in creating possible future realities.

    I do know that words matter because that’s one pathway humans have chosen to interact with one another. I also know body language, energy presence, unspoken emotions can be really powerful too. Last night I watched some episodes of Mr. Bean and belly laughed. He hardly speaks any words at all… Thank you so much for this essay as it has me thinking about all kinds of ways words, body language, facial expressions, and silence waltz together when human beings come together-often with a deep desire to be seen, heard, and valued.