The Words Around Us: Shaping a Healthier Environment
If words can shape our attitude, ask yourself this:
“Is my attitude helping my team or my customers? Is it helping me to be the person I want to be?”
Be the spark, the living invitation. With your words. Because they matter.
Scientific American spoke with Lera Boroditsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, San Diego, about why words matter and how language changes our perceptions of the world.
“Words have power. If I tell you this hamburger is 80% lean as opposed to 20% fat, then in some sense I am communicating the same thing. But what people get from those two communications is very different: People perceive the 80% lean hamburger as much healthier than the 20% fat option. By choosing how you frame and talk about something, you are cuing others to think about it in a specific way. We can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something.”
She continues, saying the things that are named in our language and conversations are the ones most likely to be thought about and to be visible in our consciousness.
Be deliberate and mindful about what you talk about! With yourself, and others.
Research has shown the words we use can even impact the health care we receive, potentially influencing lifelong health outcomes. The Center for Healthcare Strategies examined the impacts of conscious and unconscious provider bias in health care, through written and verbal communication, and found language in medical settings can create health disparities. Though this particular study looked at pediatric care, it likely has implications for the entire health care system.
Take this next story for example:
When an education specialist at a large medical center introduced The FISH! Philosophy to several departments, its message was enthusiastically received.
There was one department, however, that the specialist put off showing the video to due to their cynical, world-weary reputation—the preemie nurses.
Despite her initial hesitation, she invited the neonatal nurses to watch and discuss FISH! with her. Would they see its teachings as relevant?
After a brief spell of fore-casted silence, one of the nurses suddenly spoke up.
“You know,” she said, “I’ve noticed that when I come to work in a grumpy or negative mood, the preemies seem to be more fidgety. They cry more and they’re harder to work with. On the other hand, when I’m happy and positive, they seem happier, too.”
The nurse continued as her colleagues collectively nodded in agreement. “I see why this Choose Your Attitude teaching is so important. If my attitude has that much of an effect on preemies, what kind of effect does it have on everybody else around me?
At the end of the day, we all choose our attitudes, knowingly or not. Just as the nurses in this story discovered, our attitudes profoundly affect those around us.
If you want positive change in your work and life, we suggest that you watch the words around you.
After all, our environment shapes us. Words are a significant part of this environment. Watch the words you use when speaking to yourself. Words are containers of power. Words matter.
How are you using yours?
To learn more about our training programs, explore our website to discover a full suite of tools and resources you can easily implement on your own or with the assistance of an experienced FISH! facilitator.
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