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Last Updated on February 27, 2018

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.

              More by this author

              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 January 18, 2019

              7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

              7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

              Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

              But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

              If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

              1. Limit the time you spend with them.

              First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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              In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

              Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

              2. Speak up for yourself.

              Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

              3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

              This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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              But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

              4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

              Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

              This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

              Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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              5. Change the subject.

              When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

              Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

              6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

              Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

              I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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              You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

              Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

              7. Leave them behind.

              Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

              If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

              That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

              You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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