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How to Make Your Words Powerful Without Sounding Aggressive

How to Make Your Words Powerful Without Sounding Aggressive

The way we use language can help convey context, feelings and emotions. Whether we’re writing or speaking, the words we use have certain ways to put across the ideas and opinions we want to communicate and there are two very distinct types: hard and soft words.

Hard words are short words with fewer letters that deliver a sharp and punchy sound. When we use these types of words, it’s to reflect an element of firmness and decisiveness and a way of getting a point across. Examples of hard words are: simple, correct, hard, accept, or at the same time.

On the other hand, soft words tend to contain more letters and syllables that convey a more gentle sound and reflecting a sense of softness and sophistication. Examples of soft words are: difficult, incomplex, legitimate, acknowledge or simultaneously.

    Hard words come from Old English or the Anglo-Saxon heritage. During these times, the English language contained a plethora of functional words such as prepositions and conjunctions, many of which contained short, sharp words of one syllable.

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      However, after the invasion of England by France in 1066, these Anglo-Saxon stark words become much more softened due to the French language influence. Since the language of the court, government and the upper class was heavily impacted by Norman French, the traditional Old English was infiltrated by the softer and more descriptive words we use today. As time went on, more influence on the English language came from Latin and Greek resulting in the language evolving into a more softened vocabulary and less complex grammar.

        Hard words vs Soft Words

        There are advantages and disadvantages to the types of words we use, no matter which type.

        Hard Words Are Sharp but Blunt

        The pros of using hard words are that they’re short, sharp and concise, meaning they submit a punch which is useful for getting important impacting messages across.

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        However, the con of using hard words is that they tend to sound rigid and emotionless often depicting a harsh command. When it comes to teaching children, parents are more likely to use hard words to show intention of unacceptable behaviour because these are the easiest words for kids to understand and therefore getting them to correct their unwanted behaviour. But the rigidness of these words can encourage children to continue bad behaviour because of the negative feelings conveyed through the use of these types of words.

          Soft Words Are Gentle but Vague

          Soft words are able to soften hard statements which has the ability to allow people to be more likely to accept and understand them. But the downside to soft words is that they can come across as lengthy and distracting which can make it difficult for others to get the main point of what you’re trying to convey. This ultimately can lessen that punch you need for getting important messages across.

          Governments, authorities and big organizations often use soft words in public announcements or press conferences because the use of soft words helps reduce complaints from the public. Soft words are a way of sounding gentle, sophisticated and responsible without offending the general consensus. However, these words can end up being abstract and empty – in other words, they sound good but don’t help to directly address particular problems.

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            When Words Are Put in the Wrong Place

            So what if we were to switch the situations where hard and soft words are used?

            If parents were to only use soft words when disciplining their children, the chances are they would still become uncontrollable because they’re too young to behave without rules and use of a stricter tone and language.

            Also, if governments and authorities were to only use hard words when dealing with public interactions, yes they’d be getting the facts across clearly but they would pay a price in terms of their audience not accepting harsh truths or offending certain groups within communities.

            Hard and Soft Words Together Are The Best Combination

            The optimum form of communication and to get your point or message across effectively, is to use both types of words depending on the evolving receptiveness of what you’re saying.

            The most effective formula is to generally use more hard words than soft. This helps take the edge off any harsh connotations together with avoiding abstract language which can distract and defer from your main points.

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              When you need to deliver that punchy message or you need the information to be concise and direct, hard words are your best option. But if you find your message is too blunt, is moving into the direction of negative receptivity or isn’t being understood fully by your audience, it’s time to include softer words.

              One of the most successful people of our generation was Steve Jobs. Not only was he a pioneer in transforming his field, he knew how to effectively communicate to an audience using both hard and soft words.

              In his speech, Jobs demonstrates his genius use of short but punchy words to tell his story yet interjects a range of softer words to allow an easier and more understanding pace for the audience.

              So, use the concept of hard and soft words in your everyday life. Be more mindful and aware of the types of words you use and how effective they are being in getting your point across to others.

              A great tool is to write down the most common words you’re using and identify how hard or soft they are. You can then use this to evaluate and change your hard and soft word combinations to become a better communicator and see how people start responding in a more receptive manner.

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              Anna Chui

              Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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              Last Updated on March 30, 2020

              What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

              What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

              Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

              You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

              This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

              What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

              According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

              Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

              There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

              How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

              When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

              Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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              1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

              One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

              The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

              Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

              2. Be Honest

              A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

              If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

              On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

              Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

              3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

              Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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              If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

              4. Succeed at Something

              When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

              Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

              5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

              Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

              Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

              If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

              If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

              Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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              6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

              Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

              You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

              On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

              You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

              7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

              Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

              Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

              Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

              When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

              Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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              In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

              Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

              It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

              Final Thoughts

              When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

              The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

              Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

              Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

              Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

              More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

              Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
              [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
              [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
              [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
              [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
              [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
              [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
              [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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