Exaggeration Leaves Our Words Powerless

painI touched on this briefly in my post a couple weeks ago, Communication Lessons from Fairy Talesbut here is a more in depth look at this phenomenon.

Words like awesome, fabulous, I’m STARVING, DEAD TIRED… everyone says them, but most don’t truly mean them.  Are we desensitized to them so much now that these words don’t mean anything anymore?

When someone with thyroid disease or fibro says I’m exhausted.  Most think tired. When someone is truly in pain and says it’s excruciating.  Most think it hurts. When someone is clinically depressed or has had a death in the family and says depressed, most think sad. What's the danger in this?

1. Using inflammatory words too often will give the impression you aren't truthful, trustworthy or accurate.

2. Society's overuse of inflammatory and exaggerated words desensitizes us to the needs of those who are truly starving, exhausted or awesome.

3. We miss the opportunities we see each day to uplift someone in need because we assume they are merely, hungry, mildly tired, or simply average.

Think back to how many times you have used the following words: Starving, dead tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, ecstatic, awesome, fabulous, incredible, fantastic, really and VERY.  Did you really mean them or did you mean something less than that? Now think back to the last time you heard someone else utter them.  Do you even have a clue if THEY meant them?  It's getting harder to tell these days, isn't it?

The next time you have a conversation with a friend, be careful to use accurate and descriptive words.  Be careful also to listen for clues to discern when your friend is exaggerating and when he or she is really in need of your support and prayer. 

Here's what to listen for: 1. Intonation 2. Body language 3. Facial expression 4. What you know of their past history and challenges 5. What you know of their personality So many people are in need of our support.  Don't miss an opportunity to be that for a friend or acquaintance.  You may be the only person who is really listening.


  • Carla

    I think you’re spot on with the desensitization. That’s a biggie. Plus the fact that nobody listens effectively these days. And with chronic pain conditions, people who don’t experience them really can’t understand, so I think they tend to not believe you. Therefore, you use stronger and stronger words until they take notice. But after the first time or two, they go back to thinking you’re goldbricking or it’s not as bad as you make it out. I’ve found that attempting to explain the exact problem sometimes helps, i.e. Don’t just say, “I hurt” or “I don’t feel good.” Say, “My hands are extremely painful tonight and I’m having trouble holding things. I would love it if you could help me out by doing the dishes for me.” Works sometimes, which is better than no times.

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