The Power Of Using Words As Tools Not As Weapons
Michele Toomey, PhD

As you know only too well, when used as weapons, words can cut like a knife, sting like a slap in the face, or destroy our self confidence. They can also lead to physical violence. But as you also know, if words are used as tools, they can comfort our troubled feelings, warm our heart, give a boost to our self- image, or even inspire us. Then words lead to caring, respect and understanding.

Unfortunately, many people only feel powerful when they use words as weapons. I am here to try to show you how to use words powerfully without being disrespectful, violent or abusive. When you think of it, a knife as a tool, can cut and slice food so we can eat it with ease, or it can save lives when used by a surgeon. A knife used as a weapon, however, can wound or kill. It is our choice how we use knives just as it is our choice how we use words.

If we believe that we are at war and we need weapons to defend ourselves from our enemies, then at least let us figure out who our enemies are and why. In school, if we think we have enemies, it is such a sad fact. School is meant to be an educational community where we can learn together and be safe. Our schoolmates are supposed to be other students who are trying to learn and grow and form friendships with each other as we learn together.

So, how did you become possible enemies of each other? How do you decide who is your enemy? What is an enemy? Someone who steals from us? Someone who attacks us? Someone we fear? How do we treat enemies? Attack them? Hurt them? Humiliate them? Bully them?

Obviously, if we are at war and make others our enemies, we are always at risk. If we are at war, we never feel safe. We are always looking to protect ourselves. We are distracted and not at ease. We are always on edge. In the classroom we are disrespectful of teachers, over talking them and disrupting class.

Bullying and disrespect are seen as signs of strength that say, "Don't mess with me or you will pay, big time." Unfortunately, words used as weapons often lead to physical attacks and violence. Then we are in physical danger as well as emotional danger. We can even kill or be killed.

You don't need me to teach you how to use words as weapons and wage war. I am here to teach you the power of words as tools. They are just as powerful, but not violent or abusive. They protect by fairness and respect, and do not involve hostility or intimidation. They do not lead to physical violence.

Rather than looking to protect ourselves from enemies, we look to be protected by honesty and fairness, by accountability and respect. I will teach you how to use the power of words as tools by teaching you how to confront, not attack. How to be accountable not defensive. How to reveal and discover information that helps you understand why something happened the way it did, not just react angrily and never know anything more than you did before, just be more hostile.

Rather than wage a war and surround yourself with friends who are against your enemies, I will teach you how to discover a way of using the power of words to become friendly and treat fairly and respectfully those who once seemed to be enemies. You will learn how to pay attention to your life and your education and not be disrespectful or pre-occupied with the need to bully or the fear of being bullied.

No one ever gets abused by honest confrontation and accountability, instead, someone gets to be understood better and treated better. The climate is not hostile or intimidating and life can be lived without fear of being mistreated or bullied and without the need to mistreat and bully. Respect quiets and allows us to concentrate, to listen and be heard. That is a very good feeling that we all deserve to have and appreciate.

I would like you to learn to use the power of words respectfully and fairly, by learning how to confront respectfully, by learning how to be fair and accountable and by learning how to demand accountability with fairness and respect.When you do this, you will discover the relief and security of demanding fairness and respect, as you also give fairness and respect. You will become a powerful person who is someone to admire and respect. That is our goal.

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