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Elinor Unwin on the Power of Words / 8 February 2012

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We all know how words can have a major impact on our lives. They affect the way we feel about the world, about others and about ourselves. 
 
From Winston Churchill's 'We shall fight them on the beaches...' to Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream...' the spoken word has the power to rally thousands to a cause. In our daily lives a compliment from a friend or co-worker can boost your self esteem, whilst a hurtful comment can bring you down for days.
 
It's not just the spoken word. The written word too carries great meaning. Books can transport you to another time and place, inform and alter your perceptions of the world. I have read stories that have brought me to tears, as well as ones that have made me rock with laughter. I've also been inspired to find out more about a subject.
 
I was therefore surprised how unaware we can be with our use of everyday language. From using the word 'walk' instead of 'move', 'write down' instead of 'record or communicate' we can unknowingly exclude people from an event or activity. The filling in of forms too, is something many of us take for granted. Not everyone is comfortable with this or has the necessary skills to do this. We should therefore look at other ways of collecting information that overcome these barriers, to ensure we do not alienate. 
 
As providers of a service, we should all look at how we communicate and consider the words we use.  In joining The Art House staff this is something I have come to address. I by no means get it right all the time, but I’m certainly more aware – reminding myself as often as I can, “Think before you communicate”.