We like to help people communicate more effectively. In this blog Media-Vu's senior media coach Graham Miller explores why words are more important than we think.
You’ll remember this. From your schooldays. Or perhaps your kids say it to you even now.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
It's rubbish. Nonsense. Untrue. Drivel.
Names do hurt. Words? They're really powerful. They can hit us like a ton of bricks.
Today I dragged myself off to the gym. Haven't been for ages. My fault. I'm to blame. But I went. Did a circuit. Had a swim. Showered and prepared to leave.
You alright? said a young trainer as she passed.
I was hot, sweating a lot actually. And because I was wearing a sort of towelling based shirt it was plain for all to see.
I smiled. Thought little of it and carried on towards the door.
Then another trainer passed me.
You OK? he asked.
Yes! I replied – lying. By now I was getting worried.
Just shows I need to come more regularly and reclaim my fitness, I joked.
Was I ill? Did I look so terrible?
On my way to the office I stopped off at my doctor's surgery to pick up a prescription for my wife.
Goodness is it raining outside? asked the receptionist.
This was getting beyond a joke.
I’m fine thanks, I said lying again.
Waiting at the counter for the prescription my doctor appeared.
Hello what’s the matter with you? he asked.
Now when your doctor says it you really start to panic.
Just been to the gym, I stated.
Bit hot, I stammered, coldly.
I left as quickly as possible and sat in my car.
Words can never hurt you? I thought. They can. They do.
You never know just how people are really reacting to the things you say to them.
You may have intended something as a joke but in reality it failed. The victim not seeing your joke may have unintentionally stopped dead in his tracks.
We must be careful. Communication is everything. If we do say something in passing, a throwaway remark if you like, be careful.
It may cause damage beyond repair.
By the way I’m fine. I was just hot after a rare session at the gym. But what a lesson.