Mind Over Matter: The Influence of Spoken Words on Your Mental State
Research has proven that spoken words have power and a great impact on your mindset. Complimenting someone brings a smile to their face. Calling someone a rotten fish can cause anger. So far we know that words can have a direct impact on our behavior.
But research by Kathleen Vohs, among others, shows that words we use every day have a much more profound and more significant impact on our lives than we sometimes think. The words we say and think make a significant difference to ourselves and others.
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The impact of spoken words on our lives, behavior, and mindset
Time and again, research is done to examine the impact of spoken words on our behavior. For example, a group of students was asked to make sentences with words such as: “getting older”, “grey hair”, “walking stick”, and “grandpa and grandma”. A second test group had to make sentences with words like: “Running”, “sport”, “speed” and “vitality”.
After the group was finished, the groups were alternately asked to go outside and walk to the end of the corridor and back again. It was what the research was really about, but of course, the participants didn’t know that. What turned out was that the first test group walk consistently slower than the second test group.
The power of spoken words on our social life
Another study made people play with words like: “love”, “friendship”, “affection”, and “connection”. The second test group was allowed to do the same with words such as “possession”, “income”, “money”, and “debts”. The outcome of this research produced several worrying results.
The second test group turned out to be less social than the first one due to several small indications
- It took longer for them to help other people in the group if others didn’t fully understand the exercise.
- If the experimenter subconsciously dropped several pencils on the ground, the participants in the second group were less inclined to pick them up than those in the first group.
- When the participants were told that they would meet a stranger, they had to take a second chair. The participants from the second test group placed the chairs significantly further away from themselves than was the case with the first group. This was an average of almost 40 centimeters.
Time after time, it is proven that words can unconsciously have a positive or negative influence on our behavior. The choice of words always makes a difference, even if we are not aware of it. In 2011 Wassili Zafiris and I wrote a book called Meaningful Profit. The middle is between the Profit sector and the Non-Profit sector. For many people, the word “profit” means profit in a financial sense. That means in other words: The “Money sector” and the “Not for Money sector”.
Profit means to gain or benefit, and money is only a part of this gain
In the past 100 years, the word ‘profit’ has had a negative connotation that it would be synonymous with money. Of course, this is not correct. The word is about the gain you get from the actions you take. You can gain friendships, relationships, a better world, teach others, and so on.
If you take action and want to gain something from it, why don’t you pursue something meaningful is our reasoning. In other words: Meaningful Profit. Imagine how your behavior would change by remembering every day that you work within a Meaningful Profit company.
The words organizing and efficiency have an impact on your performance
Imagine working at an advertising agency or another company where creativity is of the utmost importance, and you are confronted with organizing and efficiency all day long. To what extent would this influence your creativity?
What would happen unconsciously if we exchanged the words “organizing” and “efficiency” for “rules of the game” and for example “contributions”? Which words would you never use again now that you know this and which words would you use instead?
Words and thoughts can be sickening. Words can also provoke love, togetherness, and working together for a more future-friendly world. Choose your words and thoughts consciously because they will benefit all of us.