Little Words

The potency of another person’s words is astonishing. We all accept the power of a critic to crush a play on opening night. With a few derogatory comments, a whole production can shut down after months of planning and millions of dollars. A flop. It breaks hearts, ends careers, damages reputations. But the opposite can be true and yet we under rate and under value the power of praise. Even the smallest, simplest and seemingly innocuous words can lift the spirit, mend a heart, make a day and change a life – forever. One can wait a very long time waiting to hear “those words”. They can imagine them and how they will be spoken. People have written novels and poems to describe that moment when the birds sing and the bells toll. But nothing…..NOTHING……compares to actually, literally hearing them. These are some of the best words to hear spoken aloud:

1. You are so smart. You can get perfect grades your whole life and have an abundance of evidence to know you are intelligent but there is absolute value in hearing another human beings, whether stranger or friend say that you are smart. And it doesn’t matter if you are an eager and awkward 1st grader or a professional woman. It helps to hear it every once in a while.

2. You are beautiful. Maybe you’re really beautiful, a top fashion model, but I would wager that you like hearing that someone thinks you are beautiful. If you are an average, living an average life, being told by someone that they think you are beautiful is like putting on a pair of levitation shoes. This is not vanity. I think humans have a primitive, cognitive appreciation of aesthetic beauty and to be identified by someone as “their” version of beautiful is powerful.

3. Let’s go together. When another person suggests that they wish to spend their time in your company, they’re saying so much. Humans are a fickle bunch. We’re autonomous and prickly and, while we tend to clump together, we still manage to be solitary and isolating creatures. So, when another human being says, I want to leave the comfort and assurity of my personal space and SHARE it with you….they say a great deal more than, “Hey, let’s go eat BBQ.”

4. I miss you. There is that time thing again. For another human being to sense a void where a particular person should reside, they acknowledge that they had set aside a space in their heart for that particular person, a space unfillable by any other person. And they can be keenly aware of the wound caused by absentia. Like any amputee, one can learn to be less and less aware of what is missing but sometimes it just comes out of nowhere and the phantom pain caused by the missing vital person is palpable. To say to that person, “I miss you.” is to acknowledge that we are vulnerable, that we have trusted and that we have given a portion of our sacred space to another person.

5. I like you. We give so much value and primacy to the phrase “I love you” and it has the highest ranking and position of all intimate phrases but one can love another without particularly liking them. Love can remain long after we lose regard for someone. A parent can be disappointed in a child and yet still love them. One can love their spouse yet dislike their drinking or infidelity. And so I say that to hear another person say, “I like you” means so much. To like something is to want, to endeavor, to enjoy. It requires energy and presence. Sadly and too often people assume that love no longer needs much energy as if it is a perpetual entity. I believe to love someone, you must continue to LIKE them and to LIKE them, you must want them. You must want to spend time with them. You must think that they are beautiful (or handsome) and you must think that they are smart.

And in the breath of a few simply and softly spoken words, the whole world can change.


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