Join me in my exploration of why the language we use is critical to an inclusive way of thinking.
The language we choose to use reflects our way of thinking. Language is something that is learned, yes. It becomes embedded in our basic go-to thinking. Sometimes, when our focus is on projecting our ideas fast – just to get them out – because we believe we are right, often inadvertently, we create barriers resulting in disengagement. when we take a more considered approach, designed to engage thinking - designed to open dialogue, we realise the power of language - in short, words matter. When we contemplate the words we say, and we consider the impact of the words we choose, when we engage our rational mind and take our time – something else enters the room – something vital to the whole operation – respect. When we share a mutual respect, barriers come down. When we are open to discussion – not only on the broader points that are put together from existing building blocks, but the building blocks themselves – this – this is the sweet spot where we have the opportunity for change. When we challenge our basic drives, we grow - often thought as unchanging – humans have evolved past the point of needing to rely on instinct. So, how does this implicate the system? Respect, awareness of difference and remaining mindful to consider other points of view all come into play when we take a minute to consider what we say and how we say it – this is where the power of language comes in. Everyone is unique.
We put barriers up when we express annoyance when someone presents a challenge to the language we use – when we aren’t aware of the potential impact – when we see the language purely as a vessel of one-way delivery to express our agenda, we reveal ignorance – a familiar phrase in response, ‘it is only semantics’. This phrase alone demonstrates a lack of awareness of the significance and the impact of the words we say.
When we look at the world through another perspective and we consider the complexities of life – differences both in our identity and the embedded learnt differences – the reasoning behind thought before speaking comes into play. These differences carry weight. These differences influence our window on the world. When the world is inherently built for us, it is somewhat harder to see the cracks in the inflexible system. When we do not fit the hetero-normative cultural ideal that for so long has been the default, the system blocks participation for so many. When we do not fit the bill – we get a richer understanding of context outside our own thinking and knowledge that the system needs to change.
Language is constantly evolving. Learning that the language we use has a fragility to it, the speed at which words get associated with negative connotations can happen overnight. Language is a powerful tool. The words we choose can result in hugely different and outcomes. If we are mindful of what we say and how we say it, can be the difference between a respectful, open dialogue and shutting down a conversation.