By Diane Shaver
My parents were avid readers, and I believe, instilled in all five of their children, the love of reading and learning. Growing up in the 1960’s, our house was littered with recent copies of Reader’s Digest. I remember eagerly awaiting my turn to read the latest issue once it arrived at our house. Being the youngest, I was usually the last one to have a chance to look through the little magazine. I liked to turn to the Word Power column. In this column, words would be listed in alphabetical order, with information that would routinely be found in a dictionary listing – word, pronunciation guide, grammar usage (noun, verb, etc.), sentence example, etc. At about age 9, I believed learning new words was powerful because I could understand more of what I was reading, and I could read “older” books. That is the first time I recall being aware of the power of words. Now, 50 years later, I continue to be awed by the power of words.
At this point in my life, I realize the power of words in a much broader context. Certainly, knowing the definition of a word and the correct grammatical usage is necessary to accurately communicate one’s intended meaning, however there are many other factors that give power and meaning to words. Voice inflection, context, energy, images, and body language, all affect the power of a word. Just recently I walked by a sign advertising substance abuse support group meetings and got a good example of how imagery and context influence a word
The sign read:
Wow! Through the word “exchanged” I got the sense of hope, a fresh start, “swapped out”, starting over, new beginning, and the positive energy of moving forward in life by making a conscious decision for change and self-healing. The arrows below the word used imagery to form the context, and the two word explanation at the bottom of the sign indicated what kind of a group meeting it was. That was word power!
I remain grateful for the opportunity to have read so many issues of Reader’s Digest, growing up, and specifically to have had an opportunity to increase and acknowledge my own word power. I am also grateful for my ability to now understand words from a multidimensional perspective that includes images and energy. This has not only influenced my daily life, but also supports me in creating an effective coaching practice where direct communication is of the utmost importance. How are you building and using your word power?
Diane Shaver, RN, MSN, NC-BC is a Registered Nurse and graduate of the Wisdom of the Whole Coaching Academy. Diane has over 35 years experience in caring for adults and children in acute care hospitals and community health settings with a focus on patient education,