Watch your words (1) (


To clearly communicate your message and avoid the traps of misunderstanding part 2

Let’s face it, communicating clearly to be understood can be a daily challenge, whether it is in a face-to-face situation or email or social media. 

In my last blog Words Matter it illustrates by a real example on how words can be misread or misconstrued.

Messaging process

Let us try to understand simply just how the brain can process a message. The whole process of ‘encoding’ and ‘decoding’[2] the message ‘sent’, starts with the ‘sender’ with an intention, an idea that is encoded to transform that abstract idea into a communicable message. This message can be transmitted by using words, symbols, pictures and even sounds.

The receiver is the reader of that message. That reader will than decode or interpretate the message obtained.  Simple, right?

Where the challenges arise is in the social context of the ‘encoded’ and ‘decoded’ message. Here is what this could look like:


What is your intention?

An old Taoist story illustrates the hidden aspects or filters behind the intention. It is called the Old Gnarly Tree.  The story is about a very old twisted and knobby tree in a large forest filled with tall and beautiful trees.  One day a lumberjack arrived and looked around to see what trees would serve his purpose. He wanted the ‘finest’ and straightest trees to chop down to make planks to build houses and boats.

He appeared in front of this old gnarly tree and thought to himself: “What a useless tree. It is so ugly.” As his thought passed, a monk happened to be walking by. The old monk looked at the knotted tree and smiled and sat down beneath it to rest in its shade.

Years later, many people came to rest under that crooked tree to play, picnic, rest and just enjoy the only tree that remained from that once large forest. (The Useless Tree )

Did you get the message in the story about intention? What are the ways that you formulate your intention so your message will be clearly transmitted?

Watch your words: they can sting or soothe

Ok. You understand the importance of thought process and how a meaning to your post can be coloured by culture, language, beliefs, attitudes, judgments, fear, and life’s experiences.  That sharing of a message also requires the close attention to the words used. Here is a quote that illustrates that very importance.

Look at a field of wheat. The minute it becomes ripe and heavy, it bends over. Nothing is lost by being humble and giving respect to others. Give respect and you get respect. Respect is like an echo.

If you say, «Hello, my dear bother, » you will get, «Hello, my dear brother, » in return. If you say, «Hey, you stupid fool, » you will get that back instead.

Sri Swami Satchidananda, 1977, Beyond Words, The Integral Yoga Publication, p139

Much research has been undertaken to show how words shape us, such is Masaru Emoto’s on how words could affect the human consciousness. He tested water in a glass and exposed it to different words, amongst other things like music and pictures. This water was then frozen for the designated time of his experiment’s protocol.  The different waters produced various crystalline shapes dependant on the words used – loving, pleasing, and negative intentions and various words. The images below show some of his results.[3]

M. Emoto’s research on water and the impact of words on it (4)

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC

We can interpret from this Satchidananda’s quote and Emoto’s experiment that words can break or make a person – feel bad about themselves or feel good.  Words then can have a negative aspect leading into the risks of social media use and the issues surrounding the user’s mental health.

Next blog will take us into the world of social media and words impact. Stay tuned.

How can we be more conscious about our intention and words used? Tips for success

Here are some tips to ensure that your communication is received by your follower in a clear, conscious manner. (Hopefully…)

1- AUDIENCE COMES FIRST: Be aware that your communication or your post is well-balanced on the “narcissism ratio[4]”, which is a way of accessing how many “I”, “me”, “my”, “we” are in your post to the “you” and “yours”. You want to engage the reader, so make it more about them, than you. This helps to develop real connections and open up your readership and conversations.

2- A SYMBOL CAN BE A THOUSAND WORDS: Use emojis wisely at the right place, at the right time and not a long list of them, where the reader is going to have to try to figure out what you mean. Be clear here too.

3- CLARITY: Write short sentence in 7 to 11 words, otherwise you are running the chance that the reader will not understand what your message is.  Simple language is best but if you know your audience use the terminology that is familiar to them.

4- BE CONCISE – Keep the reader alert and not bored. You do not want them to be trudging a long-winded paragraph to get to the point of your message.

5- FRAME AND REFRAME YOUR IDEA: Repeat your main points in at least three different ways. While trying to get a message across always focus on your potential reader by repeating your many points or highlights in a least three different ways. This is a lesson that I learned teaching, because sometimes meanings are not captured immediately, Reframe the idea in another way, the reader will catch it this time…if not it was not meant to be

6- BE CONCRETE. Offer some details and examples to support your message. Be focused so you can stand behind your words.

7-BE COHERENT. Be logical and organize your ideas in your post where all the points you have presented tie into your main topic.

8- FIT THE AUDIENCE – write for your audience – be sure that the language and level of education fit, have correct grammar, names, titles. Be precise.

9- KNOW YOUR COMMUNICATION STYLE: Ensure that your tone is consistent throughout giving it a readable flow and ultimate engagement on the part of the reader.

10- BE AWARE, APPROPRIATE AND INCLUSIVE: Use neutral, bias-free language. Check out Algonquin College’s Inclusive Terminology Glossary[5]

11- LET GO OF FILLER WORDS: Last for this list, is “to be frank with you” (that phrase is really one of my pet peeves…grrrr.) “You know” avoid the filler words “kind of” “basically”, “you see”.  Does it not give the reader the sense that you are struggling to get your message across or lack expertise? “Frankly” …


We value the connections that we create and nurture through social media by making the right choices of words. We have touched upon many elements on how to watch our words from:

  • Correctness of spelling,
  • Using bias-free language,
  • Knowing the audience to keep it alert
  • Clear, concise messaging
  • Your audience is number 1.

What is your favourite way for creating a clear message to engage your readers?

Let me know your thoughts on this.

I appreciate your time in reading my blog. Please stay tuned for the up-coming blog on IMPACT.

Cheers, Meherbani Kaur

Facebook:  Bring clarity to how you communicate online?  Watch your words.  Check out my blog

Twitter:  Read my tips on Watch your words for the best sharing on social media.  #claritywithwords


EDUCATION EXECUTIVE, The seven Cs of Communication, June 28th 2017

[1] (

[2] Wikipedia, Encoding/decoding model of communication

[3] Emoto, Masaru, 2004, The Hidden Messages in Water, Beyond Words Publisher.

[4] Murphy, Mark, If you want to be more charismatic, stop saying this word, April 30, 2021

[5] Algonquin College Inclusive Terminology Glossary pdf

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