I spent last week at the Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita, KS attending a conference with my fellow Kansans, learning skills which I intend to use in my work at Trinity In-Home Care, as well as in other aspects of my life. It was a great experience; one which will inspire and help me improve as I continue to reflect back.
Often people speak of “ah-ha” moments in their life. I had one such stand-out moment from the conference. It's not a novel concept, but it's one we all learn over and over in life.
It is simply this: words matter.
There is an adage about “right thoughts; right words; right actions”. Yet often in our society, we have the right thoughts, but we don’t know the right words. But, when we make the effort to learn new vocabulary and the why of the vocabulary, it inspires us to new and improved actions.
However, learning “right words” can be a scary and intimidating experience.
I think we can agree that we don’t intentionally offend our friends and neighbors. But there is fear to speak when you are unaware of how language may be interpreted. So, we choose to say nothing at all. And sometimes that silence is the most offensive of all.
I have been inspired to push myself to move outside my comfort zone and simply ask.
Ask-- instead of assuming I know what a person is thinking, what's behind their actions, or how they are feeling.
Ask-- when I don’t know the best language or vocabulary in a situation (like "accessible parking", instead of "handicapped parking", or "a person with a disability" instead of a "disabled person").
Ask-- when I may have unintentionally said something thoughtless—and subsequently apologize, and learn.
And if I am the one being asked, take the questions in the spirit which they are given; replying with an honest, thoughtful answer designed to help the person who is asking to learn new words and the why behind them. The more whys we know in life, the more opportunity we have for right actions.
Hopefully my work for right thoughts will lead me to learn more right words, and take more right actions.