What Are The Value Of Your Words?

You think I don’t even mean a single word I say. It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away

        –Words (The Bee Gees 1971)

IF YOU STOP and think about it for a second, words are all we have to make you understand our train of thought, express emotions such as love, campaign promises and more. It’s all words and only words.

With your words no matter how golden they sound as they soar through the air into somebody’s ear must have a value to them. In other words, without true meaning minus a heart to back them up, all words are just syllables and vowels. Empty words that sprouted out from the lips of somebody who used them strictly for personal gain with no thought or plan to make them into something realistic or a plausible plan are not words at all for they have no meaning to speak of.

What you use your words for determining what if any value they have. If you choose to use words to discredit or mock somebody else or perhaps another group of people you words will fall to the ground with the same dramatic sound as a leaf falling from a tree. Which is to say there was no sound as there were no words spoken.

A proposal of marriage or an apology are the two most import occasions where words have to be said just right in order for their intended recipient to take them to heart. Once these words are broken or gone back on whatever magical effect they may have had is lost forever as is trust. You created a special moment frozen in time only to smash the time capsule when it is discovered not one vowel or consonant is of any value.

In the English language alone there are 1,025,109.8 words. Add in all the words from all the languages from across the globe you have an unlimited ability to communicate verbally or the printed words which e-mail is inclusive of. Of all these words how many have the power to have a value assigned to them as being such that have an effect on people? This I’m afraid is an open-ended question, which I throw out you,  my readers to answer.

If you stammer and stutter to speak your words they have no less meaning or value than had they come from a great orator. Once again it is not always a case of how the words were said or by whom but the feeling or intention behind them. The main thrust of words is communication. If you communicate with eloquence people will want to hear what you say irrespective of the fact that the person speaking had struggled with delivery and pronunciation.

What of the written/printed word should they not be held to the same standard as those that were vocalized by the human voice? A word typed or scribbled on plain paper must be held to the same standard as their verbal counterparts. Each must have a clear meaning or message in order for the words you put together to come to have meaning. Denials of words that you wrote instantly rob them of their original intent and furthermore discredit the writers. The words, in this case, have about as much value left in them as the stray paper bag being thrust to and fro in the wind. Wherever the bag lands before it is discarded is akin to the words you wrote that you did not mean which is to say rubbish or trash.

Of words of that express hate and fear. Words that express the aforementioned are indeed words with value (although these words should not see the light of day but ultimately will) as they deliver powerful messages of vile and disgusting statements of threats or just plain hate. Why do these words have value? The reason is they (sadly and regrettably) reach deep into the earlobes and psyches to those to whom they are directed. The hate is so strong that one can hardly escape feeling the venom behind them.

Hate speech is not stronger in value and power unless we let it be so. Words that encourage good with further messages imploring us to watch our speech and not to make statements because they sound promising or perhaps boost you in a ratings-driven market. Value your words and use them for purposes of good. Let your words lift somebody higher than they thought they could go. A word or words that produce a smile or tears of joy carry the most value yet.

I leave you to know to ponder the above with words from those whose words have touched people’s lives and made them realize what is possible with the right combination of words whose value cannot be questioned. Words of gentle souls who wrote words to comfort the human soul.

It’s not the way that you say it when you do those things to me. It’s more the way you really mean it when you tell me what will be.

        –Moody Blues (Question)

And in the naked light I saw ten thousand people, maybe more. People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening. “Fools” said I you do not know. Silence like a cancer grows. Hear my words that I might teach you. Take my arms that I might teach you. But my words like silent raindrops fell and echoed in the wells of silence.

         –Sounds of Silence (Simon & Garfunkle)

Choose your words carefully and always be mindful of the power of good your words can generate.


Joel Elveson
Joel Elveson
INDEPENDENT Executive Recruiting By Joel is an "up and coming" Executive Search Firm formed and headed up by Joel Elveson whose visionary ideas, leadership & creativity have brought to life a more "user-friendly" approach to recruiting. His clients and candidates form powerful strategic partnerships that we use to help you. Joel’s Firm offers Permanent, Temporary (case by case), & Temporary To Permanent staffing solutions for all of your Human Capital Requirements. Contract IT/Consultants are available if needed. Above and beyond they are experts (by way of their personal industry work experience) with mortgage, mortgage banking, middle-market banking, accounting, along with many others under the vast financial spectrum of disciplines. Their business goes beyond candidate recruiting as they also train, mentor and develop your internal recruiting staff with an eye towards helping you reduce the cost of hiring. They will also work in areas such as compensation, effective onboarding processes and alike. In other words, their business is to help your business by becoming an extension of you by filling in gaps that cause delay or waste. The recruiting methods employed by Joel’s team are time tested that results in a high rate of successful placements. Joel was trained in the art of recruiting by some of the top staffing industry executives in addition to the best recruiter trainers who to this day drive me to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.

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  1. Love your post, Joel! I fully agree that while negativity can be extremely hurtful, and damaging – true change, acceptance, development only happens through words of positivity and sincere willingness to share something of value to others. Master comedians always say, don’t deliver easy punches, but take the time to keep a high quality standard in your work. Very few masters that skill. It takes a lot more patience and guts to trust that you get your audience.

  2. Our words can build up or they can tear down. They can be life giving or demoralizing. I like your reminder:

    it is not always a case of how the words were said or by whom but the feeling or intention behind them.

    How often do we find ourselves at a loss for words, especially in devastating circumstances. “I care.” Seems so shallow, but in those words are carried emotion, support, concern, love, and comfort. Sometimes that’s all we have and that is enough. Thank you, Joel.

  3. Isn’t it interesting that many feel that because we have been communicating since we were born that we know how to do, when in fact, few are effective in how they communicate and therefore experience so much conflict, confusion, resentment, disappointment and complaining that they end up dealing with so much unnecessary stress. Words can strengthen or harm us it just depends on how they are used and if we are not listening we will miss the message altogether.
    Thanks for sharing your insights, Joel.

  4. Very powerful choice of lyrics to go with this intense examination of the power of words. I have loved words ever since I figured out, at age 13, that I was something called a writer. It’s worth being reminded, every single day, writer or not, that our words carry power and intention.

    • Milli, I am glad you took the exact meaning of the lyrics while matching them to the article itself. For whatever reason, nobody comments on the lyrical content or the meaning of the song I include. It is almost as if the song is not there. I used to do a lot of writing my last year of High School as I had three periods in a row of Journalism. That was what I wanted to do for my living. In college, I wrote minimally as all the courses I wanted to take were eliminated when New York City in the midst of a financial crisis.Right after that, I stopped writing. In Public School, I won a couple of essay contests but that never led me to think of myself as a writer. My ability to write returned when I was working as a recruiter and had to do write-ups of my candidates. It was on LinkedIn I met a guy named Phil Lower who was looking for writers to publish articles on his site. Finally, I wound up connecting with Dennis and the rest is history. Writing is what I do to reach people. If my article touches people to the point that they send along comments (good or bad) then I know I have succeeded. Knowing the power of words forces you to scrutinize what you write to ensure you have not written something that will emotionally hurt somebody. I must apologize to you for writing you a whole “story.” You have made a strong impression on me as far as the depth of your comments is concerned. This group needs more writers who do not continually focus on business and leaders.

    • Joel, I thought all three sets of lyrics were so well-chosen. They really fit your topic and I was amazed at your ability to comb through all the lyrics of our generation and match these three to your article. As I read them, I could hear the songs playing in my mind. Thanks for sharing some background on you as a writer. I’m glad you found your way back to it. Although what I’ve noticed is that the writing gene never really lets go of us, even if we neglect it or try to reject it.

  5. Joel Elveson, Thank you for an important article. I write about the power of words in several of my books and in my Employee Engagement book I was inspired to create a numerical formula to reflect the power of our words, joining quantum physics and language. The formula is an attempt to mathematically reflect Henry Ford’s “If you believe you can or you believe you can’t, either way you’re right.”

    Positive beliefs have a multiplier effect on the quantum level and negative beliefs have a decreasing effect on our personal power.

    I love the way you bring in lyrics to the discussion to make it poetic. Thank you for an enjoyable article.

    • Jeanine, Let me first express my gratitude to you for both reading and commenting on my article in addition to your thoughtful compliments. Words have the power to heal while also possessing the power to hate. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not taking a moment to think about what they are going to verbalize or write along with the consequences thereof. The songs I attach to each article is tied to the subject matter of the article or convey another message that I would like people to hear. Thank you once again for your participation in a discussion such as this one. I look forward to your continued readership.

  6. When hearing about the words, their meaning, and their power; I think of the “F” word and I think of “Smurfs”. I also think of the fantasy stories where the hero, to defeat the monster, had to learn the monster’s “name”. Words in themselves are intangible. But when they relate to tangible things such as actions and objects, words craft reality.

    Awesome article.

    • Words are perceived as intangible by humans who cannot perceive any physical properties or the energy they create and reflect. Someday, if man finds ways to perceive things we cannot now perceive, we may reclassify words as tangible as we did with germs and viruses once we were able to perceive them with the invention of the microscope.

    • I feel the tangible piece to a word is if we know the word we can abstract and see patterns (aka understanding). If we do not know the word “tree” we will see every tree as it’s own thing, we cannot abstract the idea of what a “tree” is and we will have difficulty comparing the similarities and differences between trees.

      Without words we may be able to share information, but we won’t be able to share understanding. Understanding is the tangible of words because understanding can be objectively tested and measured.

    • Chris,
      Thank you for your very generous comment. I am glad you enjoyed the article. The power of words be they spoken or written should never be underestimated as they can literally change another person’s life. It’s was a pleasure (as always) to read your comments.

    • Chris,
      The late comedian George Carlin commented during on of his stand-up routines that the “F” word really signifies the creation of life but it is more commonly used to hurt people. Words can put people back into reality or take them away from it. The simple truth is that words are not just words as they have real power to them. Thank you Chris for your most recent comments.

    • Larry,
      Thank you for your very generous compliment. As far as your statement concerning the power of words and how they can affect another person, I am in full agreement with you. Many thanks for your loyal readership.

  7. Remember that the power of your words is wholly in the ear of the listener. Whether you are teaching, reprimanding, beseeching, praising, or learning, your vocabulary and phraseology will be received and interpreted through the ear of the listener. The message they receive can be different from the one sent – eliciting behaviors opposite to those sought.

    Start by considering your basic message from the audience’s point of view. What do you want them to internalize? What biases might you have to overcome? Are there issues of credibility that will block your message? What evidence would it take for them to accept your message? Are you using the proper venue and/or messenger?

    Communications prepared with these questions in mind will more likely get across. If done well, congrats on phase 1.

    Just as important as a well-crafted message, open ears and “I hear you” acknowledgement are essential. Flippant rejections of audience comments can ruin the whole day. If the listener(s) don’t think you received their feedback, your message devolves into “blah, blah, blah…”

    Finally, express your appreciation to your audience for their time, attention, and contributions, and let them know what value you got from the discussion.

    It’s really easy to communicate this way if you maintain respect for those around you, and the style can be adapted to bosses, peers, and subordinates. It’s frankly more comfortable than directive or coercive is subversive or abusive or suppressive styles.

  8. I have always found it astonishing that so much communication is misunderstood. Many of our 1,000,000 + words have multiple meanings and nuances. Then there are some that simply don’t have enough. For example, the word love in some languages have several variables for different situations where the word in English only has one. Care must be given in using a word like love or hate.

    If I say i love my neighbors kid it doesn’t mean I’m a pedophile. Hating that our government has grown so big is not the same as hating a person because of race or religion.

    In any case we should always remember that a word spoken is like an arrow shot. Neither can ever be called back.

    • Ken, In contrast I find there is a lack of communication which in part can be blamed on the rise mobile communication as opposed to person to person in person. Certainly when the spoken word leaved mouth it cannot be taken back. Great care must be taken to consider your words before you say them All too many people do not practice this. I want to thank you Ken for taking the time to read my article and provide me and the reading audience with your comments. All the best.

    • True, Joel. At lunch the other day I watched 4 young women texting on their cell phones. I don’t think they said ten words to each other through the entire meal.

    • Ken, There are families that sit down to a meal together and send text messages to each other. Even if family members are sitting right next to each other at the table they still send text messages to each other. During these meals rarely is a word spoken. I find that to be a scary practice and hopefully not a picture of what the future holds. Thank you Ken for your additional comments.

    • Words are like hammering nails into a fence. You can remove the nails, you can repair the fence, but the nail holes will always be there.