Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ponderings ... Language is an expression of who we are and how we feel

When my grandson was a little guy we shared a lot of time together. Occasionally he would come home from school expressing words eliciting an oh-my-gosh look response from me. Telling him it wasn’t nice to say those words wouldn’t be enough…

As a teenager, an older brother advised me how swearing was a reflection of a person’s IQ and people would know if you were dumb or smart by your choice of language. I thought by keeping my swearing close to home and share my intelligent verbiage to the world I’d be all right.

Sort of like using the “F” word. Yep I’ve used it. As a kid growing up the “F” word wasn’t a word I’d even heard of. Yes, I lived in a small community however I don’t believe we were that sheltered – heck we knew about Vietnam and ‘make love not war’ and sneaking out of the house and drinking beer. Seems like we would have known the “F” word. Leaving my community things changed, including my vocabulary. I began to use it as a way to make my point while angry. I thought I was so powerful as I blasted it out.

Today I notice people using it when they’re laughing, maybe like me, to make a point.

Through the years working with my clients I’ve learned to share a story woven with a message, it has a way of capturing interest, planting seeds … and generally drives home a point they can relate to. Teaching tools such as a story allow people to learn without them feeling the need of defensiveness.

So here I am “Grams” revisiting the earlier message my brother bestowed upon me …

I sat down along side of Bryce saying that we were going to rate words. Using the words he’d earlier shared, along with common words, I asked him how he felt when he said them. One by one, using a scale of “way down low to way up high”, my hands demonstrating where each word ranked, floor level to four feet. I shifted my teaching story just a bit and asked him if he was feeling low, would he do as well playing baseball as he would if he were feeling good? With a bit of conversation he was able to get my point. After that when he’d use unacceptable language I’d ask him if he was going way down low or did he want to shift it to a way up high? To date, I have never heard him use the “F” word.

Language is an expression of who we are and how we feel. This hasn’t anything to do with IQ and everything to do with how our vocabulary is a reflection of our self esteem. To think my brother planted that seed.

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-Glenda Gibbs

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