I have a wild fantasy that one day people will understand the power of words. I see lots of quotes and memes on social media that indicate people do still understand the power of words. Or, maybe not. Maybe it just sounded good to them at the time. When Maya Angelou died earlier this year, one person commented that they were tired of seeing her quotes in their news feed because they weren’t relevant. Others chimed in with her message would always be relevant. Now, if only those same people would try to walk the talk.

Words have meaning. Words are powerful. Words can inspire. Words can hurt. Words can soothe.

Two points here. First, if it means enough for you to say or write it, please try to use words correctly. I’m tired of trying to decipher “texting” language. It is not okay to use that shorthand outside of texting on your phone. Your message gets watered down or lost when you resort to substituting numbers for letters or leaving out vowels. This shorthand is like playing Wheel of Fortune. Pick a vowel and see if the words make sense.

Second point. We all have the power to hurt each other. Three days ago, I found myself in a verbal challenge with a student. I opted to go with trying to connect through positive language and reframing my requests to complete work. The student responded by telling me to F* off. The next day I tried again, starting out with explaining respect and expressing my understanding of the student’s frustration. The student responded by calling me stupid. I had been instructed to report non-compliance to the administration. When the student’s parent was contacted, the student started crying. All this turmoil over words.

Your challenge: Think about your words. If you really mean it, say whatever is on your mind. If you’re just trying to “be cool,” consider the hurt you may cause. Try to understand the power of your words.

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