We all make decisions, very second of every day of our entire lives. Every second is a decision, every breath, every blink of the eye is either a conscious or unconscious decision. Life is fundamentally a long intertwined, integration of consistent, simple decisions. It’s a strange way to think about things, but every decision, or non-decision adds to the accumulating mound of decisions, which essentially dictates where you are.
The decisions we make with word choice are no different. For example, I chose to say ‘accumulating mound of decisions’. I could have said anything else, but for me that sounded right in some inexplicable way, so I went with it. We use language so often, and so intuitively that I think we do take it for granted a lot. We forget that how we speak affects how we perceive ourselves, and how others perceive us. Words affect how we feel. That’s why songs, poems, stories etc. have emotional effects on us, because the words resonate with us.
There are micro-differences in how we talk about things. Word choice is interesting, because it can make language appear one way, but the underlying intention can be completely different. For example, there’s a massive difference between describe saying ‘he’s a nice guy’ and saying ‘he’s a good guy’. The latter doesn’t necessarily imply that the man is nice, and the former doesn’t imply that someone is good, but we may assume this to be true. You can easily be a good person without being generally ‘nice’ and vice versa. Another example would be the difference between saying ‘and ‘she’s really popular’. Popularity is circumstantial, and may not be positive popularity, whereas you can assume it is positive if we are told ‘everyone likes her’. Again, we will more than likely assume, and often incorrectly, that popularity equals positivity, and assume that the person in question is liked.
The point I’m trying to make here is that we often assume meaning, and intent. Now to be fair, most people will not scrutinize to this level about which words they use in daily speech, but they will when it’s important. The words we use to describe others can actually speak more truth about ourselves and our personalities and insecurities, than it will ever say about the people we talk about.
We rarely admit it out loud, but jealousy is a large part of the reason people gossip. We get jealous of the attention other people get, or how well they’re doing, so we talk. In these situations, all we accomplish is showing the world our true, colours.
The words we choose to use, how we use words, and why we talk differently depending on who we’re talking to, can teach us a lot about ourselves. If you change the way you talk, you’ll change the way you think (See linguistic relativity). You can talk negative and think negative, or you can flip it and end up being more sound to others and to yourself.