A man’s life can change with a single word. Words can be bullets to the heart penetrating through your flesh until you explode with pain. They can be the difference between hope and despair. They manipulate the mind, and change it. They arouse emotions that you tried so hard to conceal; they are the painful reminder of reality. Words build you and destroy you; they are the ultimate force.
“Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me” is completely and utterly false. This alone is an example of the power of manipulation with words, for adults told this lie to young children in order to prevent them from getting hurt. Words do hurt; words can destruct your self esteem and your joy of life. For instance, a pretty girl with a healthy self esteem might start to despise herself because she heard the object of her affection call her “ugly” behind her back. This four letter word is responsible for her tears, her pain, and her different personality. She would grow depressed, view herself as “ugly”, and literally be destructed emotionally. A person receives a blow to the stomach when he hears someone calling him fat. Some even go to the measure of strict diets and starving themselves, thus they are affected physically as well. Kids are labeled as cruel simply for their hurtful words and games. Every child has either delivered or received these hurtful words, and has never been the same again. I still remember when someone called me a midget in the first grade, and now I am ten years older. These words stick with you, because they hurt you on an emotional level and thus hurt your pride. A harsh word is undoubtedly more painful than a blow to the face, because a harsh word is a blow to the heart.
The power of manipulation lies in the words you use. They are capable of changing your point of view, and brainwashing you. This can be easily illustrated through a simple everyday example. When a daughter wants something from either one of her parents, she chooses her words wisely. She is careful to compliment them, indirectly leave questions unanswered, and be as vague as possible. For instance, if she wants to go to an unsupervised party, she will try to hide the fact that it’s unsupervised as much as possible. If her parents directly ask her if there will be adult supervision, she will answer,”Would I go to an unsupervised party?” This rhetorical question is extremely persuasive in nature, thus her parents will trust her, and she will not feel bad because she did not directly lie to her parents. Connotation of words are very important as well; when you are called chubby, your pride is less hurt than when you are called obese. If someone is trying to persuade you, he will choose his words wisely. For example, “It’s your duty as a Muslim”, he would,” It’s your duty as a devout Muslim”. George Orwell has displayed the importance of connotation of words by double speak, for example revenue enhancement sounds much better than tax, thus people are more willing to add to the revenue enhancement than pay taxes. Propaganda is one of the most important persuasive tools. Words play a big role in propaganda, if not the main role. Hitler specifically chose the words he would use in speeches; he chose words that aroused emotion, and thus was incredibly persuasive leader. His pro war slogans emphasized on bringing back the glory of Germany from the pre-world War I era, and thus aroused the bitterness caused by the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler was an incredibly ruthless man, but he recognized the importance of persuasive words. His propaganda techniques played an important role in his rise to leadership; his words were as important as the ruthless force he exerted. Ambiguous words are vague, thus they confuse people. Imagine telling a young boy to give you the “thing” (pen), but he thought you meant the knife, thus he cut himself by doing what he thought you wanted him to do. Words can change your mind, for only after listening to a good argument does my view on a matter change. A mixture of connotation, ambiguous words, rhetorical questions and many other manipulative techniques may change my view on something I used to feel so passionately about.
Sometimes man spends a lifetime trying to conceal his real emotions. Sometimes he is completely unaware of the emotion. In both conditions, words can bring out those emotions you tried so hard to hide. In Anna Karnina , Anna tried to hide the feelings she felt towards Fronsky. But when Fronsky told her how he felt, he aroused the emotions that were hidden in her heart. A few words managed to make her an adulteress, a few words were indirectly responsible for her suicide. A few words acted as a home wrecker. Freudian slips also arouse emotions that are desperately trying to emerge. Sometimes you tell someone “I love you”, and you realize that you actually meant it. It was an unintentional slip of the tongue that managed to enable an emotion to emerge.
If words weren’t powerful, man would not spend so much time talking. Words are one of the most effective mediums of expression, for they can destroy you physically and emotionally; they can also have the opposite effect on you. You must fear a word like you fear a weapon, because a word can hurt. A word can also make you feel better, brainwash, and deceive you.Samar Al Ansari
Mar 31, 2005