Value of Words

communication 3

Imagine if every word you spoke were actually money, would you be a little more careful?

As we look at communication, it might be helpful to look at communication like an economy between two villagers in a marketplace. In ancient times if one had sheep and wanted potatoes an exchange or barter would occur, a price would be negotiated, and both parties were aware of the transaction.

Communication in everyday life works in a similar way. Our trade carts are filled with a jumble of words and experience and we wish to trade these goods for produce that we find usable.  We wish to trade with other people in the market through the road of communication.

Before we continue down this analogy, it is imperative that we answer a question. “Why do we talk?”  We all have lots of words and phrases to sell at the market place, but we need to answer what it is that we are trying to ‘buy’ with our words.  It would be ridiculous to go to the market place and not know what we plan to buy, yet how many times do we engage in a conversation and do not know what it is that we are planning on accomplishing or purchasing with our words?

As in any economy each set of goods can be broken down into categories.  In communication 2ancient times textiles might be traded for produce, or livestock for pottery.  In order to simplify transaction money was invented to represent and simplify the process, yet the marketplace still runs on that basic principle.

The main currency that we all possess in language is information.  Just like currency, we use this information in the form of words to buy goods at the market place of conversation.  Suppose a child wants to buy the praise of a teacher.  He will use the information he possess (the right answer) to buy praise from the teacher.  A transaction has occurred, as well as a trade agreement.  If this transaction continues the relation will grow stronger and the dividends for the student will be greater praise which he then will exchange for other goods be it, respect, happiness, or even a scholarship.

Just as it would be foolish to go into the marketplace without understanding transactions or what one wishes to buy, it is equally foolish to enter into a conversation without understanding what it is that you are buying or selling.  In fact, that ignorance will leave you frustrated and taken advantage of.  Sadly, a great number of people enter the marketplace, throw out their word currency and hope to get the goods they desire.

It would be wise before any of us talk to mentally ask the question, “What am I trying to buy with my words? (Pr 10:19)  If I do not know what I am expecting to get out of a conversation, I am guaranteed not to get it.

Another question to ask, “Is what I want going to last?”  Am I spending my limited currency on worthless trinkets?  If I enter into the conversational market place and blow all of my words on self-adoration where I am the hero of all of my stories, it may feel good for a while, but have I counted the long term cost?  I may have happy feelings temporality, but I will have no goods to sell in return after wasting my currency on frivolity.  A good business stays in business because the products that it sells are quality and useful.  If my words are not useful to anyone else, those with quality or useful wares will quit frequenting my store, and I will be left to trade with others who do not value words.  The great investors of the world are wealthy because they saw the value of an asset and were willing to trade their money for the asset.

Another great question to ask ourselves is, “What type of currency am I using?”      (Pr communciation25:11) Am I hoping to gain respect from other people, then my words must also be filled with respect.  I could buy a lot of straw with an ounce of gold, but I would not buy much gold with a wagon of straw.  If my words are not precious or carefully chosen, I will not be able to purchase the item of quality I desire.  A mother may wish dearly to have her children obey, but if she does not choose wisely her angry words may buy her disrespect.  The quality of my goods will depend on the quality of my currency.

What is it that you try to buy with your words?

What words do you possess that others would want to buy from you?

What are ways that you could increase the value of your words?

A Duel of Words


How much of my conversation is about me? I am not talking about verbal “selfies” where I continually talk about my own abilities or talents, but how often do I talk because I want vindication?

According to the Oxford dictionary conversation as a noun entails, “The informal exchange of ideas by spoken words.” But how often do we smuggle more into our conversations than they are designed to carry? We weigh our conversation semis down with more cargo than a Mexican drug lord and hope that we can get across the border?

An ancient wise man when having a heated debate with his friend comments on this issue of selfish conversation in Job 20:1-3. “Then Zophar the Naamathite answered: 2 ‘Because of my feelings within me. 3 When I hear a reproof that dishonors me, then my understanding prompts me to answer.” Wow, count the personal pronouns there.

     How often do we talk because we want to vent our feelings? There is no better way to make a conversation about me than to make my feelings a basis for talking. A lot of conversations would be clarified if I simply wore a sign saying, “It’s all about me!” I share thoughts that have become personal to me (like my favorite sports team or movie), and then when someone has the nerve to disagree, WHAMO! My feelings are hurt. Our society has somehow made conversation a centerpiece for meaning and personal value, rather than a test tube where we experiment with ideas.

For example: If I were to be talking with you in a normal conversation and said, “That is a ridiculous idea, how could anyone believe the world is flat.” Unless you pulled a Rumpelstiltskin and were asleep for 500 years, you probably would not take any offense. However, if I changed the factors slightly and I said, “That is ridiculous, how could anyone believe in your (clothing brand, girlfriend, political candidate)?” I would imagine there would be a little more personal value inherent in your response. You see, the conversation has gone from an exchange of ideas to an acceptance of person. My reactions get stronger because the stakes are now higher, I am no longer battling for an idea, but for my own worth and value. Being proven right is now a matter of honor, “I challenge you to a duel!”

     How often do we talk because we have been dishonored? These verbal duels are less likely to have a true conversation than a blind man at a mime convention. Because we have been personally dishonored, we cut people off like a NASCAR driver and send them into the rails. Even if we do not verbally shut people down, we have quit listening to them, so that we can better formulate our next offensive move. We are surprised that they had the audacity to share something about themselves, or even worse…. suggest something that we should consider changing. It is in these moments that it is much simpler not to heed Proverbs 15:32, “He that hears reproof gets understanding.”

So how do we change or to get back to the exchange of ideas? Realize feelings are not the basis for truth, and realize that ideas can be dissected but people shouldn’t (unless they are dead and then they don’t really mind).

You will find that the most stubborn, obnoxious, bull-headed people are not those that are the most sure, but the most insecure.

Please leave your comments, it would make me feel good….