How Your Choice of Words Can Reduce Stress and Empower You

Replacing common phrases in your thoughts and speech can radically improve your work and interpersonal relationships.

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Have to, Need to, and Going to

There’s a huge difference between the things you have to do or need to do, and the things you’re going to do. The difference may seem small, but it’s there — and it sets you up to approach that thing as something you’ve chosen to do, rather than some burden laying on top of you.

Can’t vs. Won’t

People often use “can’t” when they mean “won’t”. There’s a major difference between the two. Can’t implies an inability. It means that even if you wanted to, you would not be physically able to do this thing. But that is not often the case.

Want vs. Need

There is a very real difference between what we need and what we want. The entire modern minimalist movement has sprung up around this distinction. And for whatever the failings of that particular movement might be, what it gets right is that we often confuse our needs with mere wants. And that confusion complicates our lives.

Know vs. Perceive

Assumptions are harmful. They can make you look foolish when you make one that doesn’t turn out correct. They can hurt others by changing how others treat them on what ends up being a flimsy evidence. They are a poor basis for most actions.

  • Secondly, saying “I perceive that…” forces you to think in terms of why you believe what you do. It forces you to cite observations and evidence, rather than your hasty conclusions about what they all mean.

The Overarching Principle: Speak Intentionally

We humans — for the most part — are a verbal bunch of beasts. We talk a lot. And that has been great on the timeline of social development. But talking also gets us into trouble when we do it without intention.

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Author of “The Wabi-Sabi Way” and “Be, Think, Do”. Subscribe to my newsletter “Woolgathering”:

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