Every time we open our mouths, or put pen to paper, we reveal something about our true selves – intentionally, or not.
Even with full reflection of our biases, it’s nigh impossible to totally escape our ingrained idioms, our life-long learned mannerisms… our voice. It is the rare author who can write “anonymously”, without someone who knows them recognizing the patterns that identify an author, as readily as if their names were etched in stone within the text.
Native speakers can cull out the non-native speakers by recognizing non-native modes of speech; you’re one queso grande away from being exposed.
The actual words we choose conspire to betray our motives. We can choose to say “someone is trying to proselytize us to their position”, or we can say that “we are evangelizing others to our cause”; one word has a somewhat positive connotation, while the other has a slightly negative one. Both words denote a conversion in viewpoint or belief, but have different subterranean subtexts based upon whether you’re the one doing the converting… or the one being wooed for conversion.
Within our professional lives, we develop entire vocabularies of specialty-speak, meant to separate the initiates from the acolytes, and the profane.
Are you in the club? What’s the password?
We use our words as weapons, whether we brandish them in all out frontal attack, or with practiced and nuanced dog-whistle passive aggression.
We “code switch” to gain authenticity.
We couch words to soften meaning.
We string meaningless words together to obfuscate.
We inspire, by turning our speech into action.
How will you speak today?
Words matter. Make your words matter.