Last week I had the privilege of speaking with a room full of pre-medicine students who are a part of the Multicultural Association of Pre-Health Students at Baylor University. I can admit now that I was a little nervous about what to present that would meet the goal of talking about my career while educating the students in the significance of how they show up in the healthcare profession. I am a fan of the Cleveland Clinic videos on topics such as empathy and bedside manner. Last week, we watched a video called Words Matter. I encourage you to view it as well. I watched as the students observed how patients said words affected them at the most critical points of their lives. The words we hear can help us to accept or regret a medical diagnosis for ourselves or a loved one. The words we hear can give us hope or cause us to sink into a space of hopelessness. Words are significant to how we experience the world around us. I also heard the candid reactions as the students listened to some very negative gut-wrenching words that hurt patients to their very core. If nothing more, I believe each student realized the power of words after our conversation.

You might not be a healthcare practitioner by profession, but the principles still apply. Our words carry weight. The video was a sobering reminder that the words we use can live on long after they have been released. In the intense climate we live in, it can be easy to give in to the idea that we have a right to express ourselves. At the same time, we must be challenged to be better stewards of our words.

Our words can help people to feel that their voice matters or it can silence and segment them.

Our words can cause significant change for future generations, or it can prevent them from emerging forward.

Our words can validate a person’s existence or cause them to regret they were ever born.

My message for you today is simple, though still no easier to give. Our words matter and they make an impact.

Here are a few practical reminders for you to implement this week:

  1. Use your words to engage with other people, not to use against them.
  2. Use your words to acknowledge and affirm the value in someone else, not deny their existence.
  3. Use your words wisely or if not embrace silence.
  4. Use empathy generously. Empathy is taking a moment to step into someone else’s shoes and honor their need to be heard, to feel, and to hurt. Empathy is saying through your actions “I am here for you.”
I want to hear from you! Make sure to answer today’s questions and share your reply to ashley@ashleysauls.com or in the comment section below:

Did you watch the Words Matter video? What impact did the words have on the patients good or bad?

How have you used your words recently? Do you believe the impact they made on others was good or bad?

What commitment will you make this week to choose your words more wisely?

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