The world is a pretty scary place right now and if you are anything like me, you may be wondering if we are nearing the end of an era.
Is life as we know irreparably changed?
And, like me, you may wonder why the rest of society seems to be at each other’s throats constantly. I mean, “Why can’t we all just get along?”
And like me, you might wish you had the power to change things.
But guess what? According to research, you may actually be more powerful than you think.
As a mother who birthed 3 children in two years, I’ve learned a lot about how to gain the upper hand in a crowd but it wasn’t until I started my own business that I realized that I had developed an invaluable life skill.
You see, when my daughter was little, she would do typical little kid things. She threw tantrums in the middle of the grocery store or took off in the wrong direction the minute we stepped out of the car.
At that age, I could simply scoop her up and move her in the right direction or head to the car and muscle her (as gently as possible) into her car seat until things calmed down.
But then I had twins. Trust me when I say, it’s not nearly as easy to scoop up two tantruming children and muscle them into two separate car seats.
Thanks to my marked lack of upper body strength, I quickly learned how to use more “sophisticated” methods to contain the chaos.
USE YOUR WORDS
If you’ve ever hung around the preschool circuit, then you’ve most likely heard this phrase before. “Johnny, we don’t hit. Please use your words.”
As kids, we are taught early on that words have the power to get us what we want and violence has the potential to get us into big trouble.
In our media focused world we have endless opportunities to practice this skill as adults. You can use your words on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, a blog, through text message, email… and the list goes on.
But despite the ever-growing list of communication methods, we, as a society, have somehow become much less capable of using our words to “get what we want” and in turn, people are leaning into violence as a means of changing things.
So were we lied to as children? Do words really have more power than violence?
The answer is a resounding yes… but only if you know how to use them.
USE YOUR WORDS CORRECTLY
In 1936, Dale Carnegie released a book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” The book was the first of its kind. It released the results of Carnegie’s research into the human condition and what motivates people to change their minds.
For nearly a century, that book has been used by professors at Ivy League Colleges to teach business professionals how to influence people and land a sale. You see, these lucky students are being taught to understand concepts that the rest of the world misses out on.
The most powerful people on earth know how to use words, rather than weapons, to get people to change their minds. In fact, it’s rare to find a person of extraordinary physical strength in a position of true power.
Picture an army of soldiers kneeling before their general while he speaks or professional football players kneeling before their coach while he gives a pep talk. What causes these strong men to kneel in respect before another man?
When used correctly, words have the power to bring even the strongest men to their knees. When used to inspire, words have the power to turn a divided country into a united nation.
Words ARE powerful whether we like it or not. From the beginning of time, words have been used to inspire & motivate people. But they’ve also been used to manipulate and control people.
Cults were formed, wars were started, countries were divided and it all started with words.
People who want power, know the importance of words, and how to use them. That’s exactly why you need to know how to use them too.
HOW TO USE YOUR WORDS CORRECTLY
-Dale Carnegie, How to win Friends and Influence People
“The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage. He has little competition.”
This quote from Carnegie’s book does a fairly concise job of summing up a very complex concept. Our power is in our ability to serve the interests of others.
According to a study done by Westminster college, referenced above, people are much more willing to agree with YOUR conclusions when you make them feel as though they have a choice.
Think about it. We tend to respond to people according to the way they frame their questions and statements.
Take these two statements for example:
“I hate to ask this because I know you don’t have a lot of extra time on your hands, but could you stay late this evening to get that report done? I’ve got a meeting at 5 and I’d love to share it with the team.”
“I’ll need you to stay late to finish that report today. I need it on my desk by 5.”
To which one are you more likely to respond favorably? The first of course. Because in the first example, you were not bullied into doing something that you didn’t want to do.
If we can just grasp this one simple notion, that words and the way we use them are incredibly powerful, we could see REAL change in the world.
You see, everyone is more connected with their own perspective than someone else’s.
But having a strong opinion and the ability to communicate it really doesn’t give you any special power against your opposers.
A powerful person knows how to share their opinion respectfully and with so much grace and understanding for opposing viewpoints, that people change their minds without realizing that they are doing so.
Practice Harnessing the Power of your Words at Home.
Even in our own homes, with the people we love most, we are often unwilling or incapable of shifting our focus away from our own perspectives.
Instead, we engage in power struggles that ultimately end in failed marriages and estranged relationships with our children.
I learned long ago that leaning into my children’s perspective, no matter how irrational, gives me more power to change it than anything else I do.
But leaning into my husband’s irrational perspectives required a bit more practice and self-control on my part, after all, he is grown.
For the last 3 years, I’ve been blogging about marriage and parenting and It’s given me the opportunity to connect with many women who are struggling with feeling powerless in their home.
Whether they are struggling with a selfish husband or a disobedient child, they all feel as though they are stuck.
They believe that they have only two choices: Live miserably or Leave
My goal is to help them see that there is a third option, but it won’t be fun, easy, or the popular opinion.
The popular opinion says that we “deserve better” or that it’s not our job to “rehabilitate a broken man.” Are those things true? Maybe.
But unfortunately, that completely misses the point. Families are meant to be the place where people love us unconditionally and accept our faults.
Families are meant to be a secure place to learn and grow into better people. That growth is not just meant for children but also for you and your spouse.
And fortunately for us, we now know that we have the power to influence change in our loved ones; power that will come in handy next time your spouse wants to play video games instead of helping with dinner.
Just remember powerful people inspire change, they don’t demand it.
So next time you find yourself walking into a power struggle, take two steps back and ask yourself what’s motivating the other side?
And once you know what’s motivating their choices, you can use their own motivations to plant the seeds of change.
Figure that out… and you will have the power to change the world.