Words Are Sharper Than Double Edged Sword


Content Planning

  • Key Terms: Communication, Sagacious v/s Impulsive Behaviour
  • Key Themes: Importance of Communication, Importance of Balance in Life, Communication as Reflection of Mental State, Role of Communication in Leadership

Structure Planning

  • Be careful, that you do not go through the, ‘Support or Against Approach’ for this topic, as this proverb is universally accepted and respected world-over. Thus, we have to elaborate and explain what we understand from it. In second part we shall explore both sides of the coin, i.e., both the positive effects of judicious words and the negative effects of impulsive outbursts and habitual swearing.
  • In the conclusion, we must suggest that the words are effective, if they are backed by actions and honest intensions.


Words are very important for communication. They have apparent meanings, hidden meanings and shuttle meanings. They please, they mesmerize, and they make us laugh and weep. They inspire, cajole and empathize.

Words do not always help, they may be dangerous and they may harm, breed hate and contempt, shatter hopes and break hearts and demoralize. Yehuda Berg rightly remarks, ‘Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.’ No doubt words are sharper than two edged swords.

Words can connect people to an idea or to a movement and cement an unbreakable bond. People trust the words of the leader in whom they repose confidence. A beloved trusts the words of his lover and is ready to go to the edge of earth to realize their communion. A religious devotee takes the words of an scripture as the guiding principle of his or her life. This happens because words have the capacity to create inner bonds. Words reflect our intent and purpose. Great philosopher poet Rumi says, ‘Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words.’ Without right purpose and intent words may or may not lead to a ‘bond’.

Words may lead or mislead. They can mesmerize people to follow an ideology or to support a leader and his movement- good or bad. Most of the leaders in the past and even in present times have a common trait: theyspeak effectively; they are good orators; they stir people’s mind and heart. Hitle r, Martin Luther King, Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, etc. have one thing in common that they were good orators. The Charisma and appeal of an idea or a leader crucially depend on words. The violent and fundamentalist movements in the world today draw recruits because their leaders successfully indoctrinate the followers. To quote Rudyard Kipling, ‘Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.’ Insight into character comes from listening intently to the spoken word. The physical person, their charisma, charm, and dramatic flair is more often used to persuade audiences, as they use these stealth tools of disguise and deception (Maximillian Degenerez).

The words of a good teacher or parents or friends can kindle hope, inspire, and raise the dormant confidence within a person. Our success and failure, our perception, imagination and vision and our understanding and analysis crucially depends on what kind of words we have listened and learnt and lived with in the process of growing through parenting and teaching. I see the world as beautiful and livable; the other person sees it as ugly and not-livable. I see possibilities in every situation; the other person sees constraints. All this is because of the different contexts we have lived in and different words that have entered into our DNA while we were growing. Mother’ words have made great leaders. Teacher’s words have made great people. Neighborhood Good

Samaritan’s words have enabled many poor and wrenched persons to write rags to riches story. Good words create Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Barak Obama, William Sisters, MS Dhoni, Narendra

Modi, etc. Words have great effect.

Words can make a negotiation successful. They can also lead to a fight. Words give us maneuvering and diplomatic space- we can convince or we can raise doubts. The quality of a successful negotiator or motivator is that they can change you and your perception by logic and analysis communicated with measured words.

This is true in personal social and national and international contexts. In an interview, we may gain an extra point or lose points by proper use or misuse of words. We may be misunderstood on a larger platform if we do not exercise caution in use of words. Negotiations fail or succeed, battles are avoided or ignited and differences resolved or increase by the use of words. Napoleon Hill rightly says think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another

If we use modest and friendly words, it helps us to cultivate friendship and trust. In public relationship, it is said that there is great relevance of saying words like ‘good morning’, ‘please’, ‘kindly’ and ‘with warm regards’.

In personal lives good words express the love in our hearts for our kith and kin. Words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men and women. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.

Use of words needs a variety of cautions. We should not commit what we cannot do or deliver. It is important to support our words by action. We may fail in personal or public lives if we fail to act according to the words we have given unto ourselves or to the public. John F. Kennedy rightly said ‘as we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.’ Words have a mysterious propertythey carry the attitudes of the user with them even if we are using them unconsciously. We should, therefore, be cautious. People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude. Arundhati Roy writes in her The God of Small Things, ‘That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.’

Poor language reflects anxiety, frustration, and lack of understanding. The unnecessary uttering from Queen Marie Antoinette of France, ‘Let them eat Cake (if they don’t have bread)’, is widely considered to be the finalevent that triggered French Revolution. Similarly, during the recent general elections in India, the uncouth statement by a leading member of the ruling party (INC) is widely considered to have an conveyed extremely negative message regarding his political party, ‘I promise you in 21st Century Narendra Modi (leading contestant before election) will never become the Prime Minister of the country. …But if he wants to distribute tea here, we will find a place for him’.

Children who were brought up in a household where sharp criticism and cruel taunts were the norm can tell you that words can hurt even more than body blows. That’s because they imbed themselves in young minds, along with the pain that someone who should love you and cherish you – a mother, a father – apparently doesn’t think very much of you at all. Those kind of painful hurts replay themselves for decades to come. Very few children growing up can unleash themselves from the brand labeled on them by a cruel parent or other authority figure. If people who are powerful and in charge think so little of the child, what will he learn about how to think of himself ? How can he get away from words that burn themselves mercilessly into young, unformed souls? Negative words are powerful indeed.

Michael Ondaatje, writes in her book, The English Patient, ‘She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.’ Words can help us in adversity and despair. Richard

Wright says, ‘I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all.’ But words need to be supported by right purpose, attitude, intent, meaning and  action to be believed. Hollow words are noises and they are frustrating so much so that William Faulkner quips in his Mosquitoes, ‘Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words.’ Mahatma Gandhi’s words were taken by the people because they were supported by action. Martin Luther was believed by the people because he was honest in intent. Nelson Mandela had great purpose behind his words so he led people to freedom struggle.

Words can be life changers. They give new meanings to our lives if we try to seek this from them. Words provide props to our falling hopes in goodness and possibilities. Words enter into our psyche, our character or consciousness. So Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, ‘Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.’ And of all words of love and hate, cooperation and aggression, prayers have greatest effect. The words of prayers are inspiring, reassuring and purifying. Mahatma Gandhi rightly says, ‘Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart. Words, therefore, derive their meanings by the intent, purpose, attitude and actions of the user. Words are sharper than two edged swords.

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