4 Powerful Words To Start Improving The Way You Act and Think, and The Way Others See You

Words are powerful. They help shape our perception of the world, and inevitably, the way others perceive us. Research suggests that language can affect our behavior, and that over time, changed behavior can affect how we think.

Like glaciers carving great canyons, our language contours the landscape of our lives with a quiet persistence. Choosing the words we use and live by can have a profound impact in shaping our realities on a conscious and subconscious level. The more we use these words in context of our everyday lives, the more we help positively shape our relationships with friends, children, spouses and of course, co-workers too. Here are four powerful words to start leveraging today.

1. Empathy

Empathy is really, simply, listening. Carefully, genuinely, and uncritically. Empathy motivates us to lean in, facing our challenges with sincerity and understanding, and building trust within teams. This can also be referred to as emotional intelligence, recognizing emotions in others and yourself to communicate more effectively. It’s innate behavior that’s well worth being more conscious of.

2. Courage

I often think of courage as being big and showy — standing up for what you believe in, the courage to swim against the tide, etc. But I’ve come to realize courage can also be subtle and quiet — the courage to lead from behind, or the courage to let go of fear. Regardless of how you see or use it, courage gives us a sense of pride and authority, if not for others, for ourselves. We stand a little taller, sit up a little straighter and breathe a little easier.

3. Compassion

Compassion, related to empathy, is about listening, but with an even greater awareness and presence. I think this word tends to have a connotation of weakness to it — like a soft spot that is ripe for compromise. But compassion is a necessary part of life. It’s what makes us relatable. It helps us see the other side, which is critical in negotiating, both with others and ourselves. Compassion makes us human. Makes us treat each other more humanely. And especially in today’s world, that seems like a very good thing.

4. Authenticity

Everything is “authentic” these days — soda, toys, movies, even jeans. Marketers love this term because it helps brands stand out. But what happens when everything tries to stand out? Sure, authenticity can be a great selling point, actually being authentic requires knowing yourself — really knowing yourself — and then staying true to that no matter what. To borrow a nautical phrase, being authentic is like keeping tack, maintaining the wind in your sails, regardless of which way the weather shifts. People that embody authenticity can also be described as genuine, trustworthy and steady. And aren’t those the characteristics everyone wants in a good leader!? Really knowing yourself might take a lot of time and effort. Start by choosing something about yourself that you fundamentally believe, and guard against changing that regardless of the company you keep or the places you may be.

What words would you add to this list? Are you committing to making a conscious change in your behavior?

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