You’ve hardly had any sleep, your hairdryer is on the fritz, and your favorite skirt won’t button. You’re having a rough morning, to say the least. You finally drag yourself into work (ten minutes late, because it’s one of those days), and you find a sticky note on your computer that reads, “See me” written in your micro-managing boss. You roll your eyes and think, Great, now what? As you walk to his office, you’re role playing in your mind—Your boss is going to fire you. What have you done wrong, besides being late and looking like a bag lady? Oh yeah, there was that report mishap, you remember, the one that was never written? That’s it, you’re fired. You’re sure of it.
You open the heavy wooden door, wishing it were glass so you could see his face before entering, gage his mood. Once inside the office, you stand up straight, hoping the pin you’ve secured your zipper with doesn’t suddenly pop off and fly across the room. Is it hot in here? Your boss doesn’t look up from his computer, just motions to the chair in front of the desk. Gulp! What seems like an hour later, yet is merely minutes, he looks up and crosses his arms across his chest. You’re sure he’s giving you the once-over, silently confirming the decision to fire you. He smiles and leans back, relaxing. Bastard. He’s enjoying this.
“I’ve been meaning to talk to you for weeks,” he says. “Your reports have been superb—accurate reporting, detailed, and wicked funny.”
After you pick your jaw up from your lap, your heartbeat slows to a more normal pace, the tension in your cheeks, which had been scowling, dissipates. You can breathe once again.
The power of words is tremendous. Words can life you up or send you spiraling into depression or anger. Words can be whirled into viscous swords or softened into a warm embrace, all with a simple change in tone. The written word can be just as powerful as the verbal. Take the “See me” note from above. Had the note said something as simple as, “Can we chat around ten?” or “See me J,” it would have conveyed a much friendlier message.
Everyday we make choices in how we’ll convey ourselves to others. Sometimes we do this with facial expressions or body language, and other times we do this through spoken words. The next time that you are rushed or stressed, think before you speak. Is your tone conveying the message you want to relay to others, or are they taking the brunt of your bad moment? In writing, I suggest trying the same tact. Review each sentence for punctuation—a simple comma can change the tone of a line.
Words can heal and words can hurt. Choose your words carefully.
Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of two novels, Megan’s Way and Chasing Amanda. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, and WoMen’s Literary Café, a literary community. Melissa is currently collaborating in the film production of Megan’s Way. Melissa has written for Calgary’s Child Magazine, and Women Business Owners Magazine. She hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa is currently working on her next novel, and lives in Maryland with her family.
Melissa's interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping women see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.
Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.
Originally published on Words From The Heart