Words are powerful. They can inspire confidence or they can have the exact opposite effect - create a lack of confidence.
Let me give you an example, using the current presidential campaign.
And please, this isn't intended to start a political debate. That's not what this article is about. It's about the power of words. Nothing else.
At 9:00 a.m. on September 15, 2008, John McCain uttered seven event-changing words..."The fundamentals of the economy are strong."
The Lead Is Widening
With that single sentence, a presidential campaign race that had been relatively tight broke decidedly toward Obama and his lead is widening each passing day.
Now we could argue that other events also played a role in McCain's declining poll numbers. For example, the economic crisis and Obama's impressive debate performances are all contributing factors.
But no one can dispute this one simple fact. McCain's campaign has not been the same since September 15, when he uttered that now infamous statement.
So what happened?
Why did that one sentence tilt the race more favorably toward Obama?
Here's what I think happened: When McCain said that the fundamentals of the economy were strong, people wondered what economy he was talking about. Because surrounding events suggested the economy was anything but strong.
Worse yet, people felt McCain was out of touch with what they were feeling. They felt he didn't "get it." In essence, McCain lost economic credibility with the American people.
As a result, people lost confidence in McCain's ability to handle the economic crisis, and they drifted toward Obama for leadership. And the polls are overwhelmingly reflecting that.
Here's another example of the power of words, using the current economic crisis. When it was announced that the government was going to bailout Wall Street to the tune of 700 billion dollars, the American people went ballistic.
They wanted to know why Wall Street was getting a bailout, when they were the ones responsible for this mess in the first place.
So why were the American people so hostile towards bailing out Wall Street?
Because of the way the package was presented - because of the words that were used. Consciously or unconsciously, people had a problem with the word "bailout."
Quickly realizing the negative connotation of the word bailout, lawmakers wisely started calling the financial package a "rescue" plan.
What's the difference?
Polls suggest Americans still don't like the idea, by any name. But psychologically, they're not quite as hostile toward the idea of a rescue plan.
In closing, words are powerful. So be sure to choose your words very carefully.