What’s in a word – What’s that you’re saying? – Choosing the spell-binding POW!er of words – simply because you can!

POW!er of words Loading

A lexical approach to discovering more about ourselves, our values, life, cultures and creating a better world through the words we choose to use.

Following up on “Confrontation Creates Conversation” (What’s in a word – What’s that you’re saying? Part 1) I thought it would be exciting to now, add a bit of POW! to make your conversations more wow!

POW! – can also be described as having clout, esteem, guts, pizzazz, say-so and the “what it takes”

Clout means to have influence, standing and authority.

Spellbinding – means to hold someone’s attention as if by magic. Also known as fascinating, enthralling, entrancing, captivating, riveting, gripping, very exciting, thrilling, absorbing, compelling, hypnotic and magical. Origins: dated back to the 1800’s from the words “spell” (magic) and “bind” (captivate).

Imagine that? You? Sure you. Here’s how.

But first. Let’s start from the very beginning.

Have you ever wondered why, when asking someone if they can do something for you, your request sometimes has the potential to open up a “can of worms”?
Think about it. “Can”, generally, refers to

  • a metal container,
  • the ability to do something or
  • having the permission to do something,

for example: The people were squeezed into the arena “like sardines in a can”.
can speak German which helps me a lot when working in Germany and Austria.
He can attend the Ayurveda cooking seminar next month!

And yet cancan be used so incorrectly at times.

1st Scenario: It is 4.50pm, you’re tidying up your desk when your boss walks in and asks you this: “Can you please proofread, my presentation for my 8am meeting tomorrow?”
Are you able to? Yes.
Do you want to? No.  Emotional attachment.

2nd Scenario: Woman asks man “Can you take out the garbage/fix something/help me with something?” Most of us know the reactions. Reply with attachment.

Or a simple question like: “Can you swim?”  which gets an equally simple answer: “Yes” or “No” with no attachments.

So what’s with the first two scenarios?
Well, it’s all the “stuff” around the words (relationship – equal or not, emotions – intimate or not, the tone of voice, personal perceptions and beliefs, culture, language etc) that impact the meaning and the willingness to resist or accept the request.  Last minute requests that gate crash our private time can lead to resistance and resentment. Too many gate crashers will lead to long-term unwillingness. Asking someone if they can clear the garbage is asking after their ability. Sure they can. Do they want to, now? No. So it gets forgotten.
Now try the first two questions starting with “will”. See what happens. But remember if the trash van is passing by in the next few minutes to include that information in your request.
‘Will’ softens things. ‘Will’ is more pleasing to the ear. ‘Will’ wills (also known as choose, select, favours, prefers, desires, embraces) a positive outcome. ‘Will’ transfers accountability even if the action is done later, the requested action will happen. If not there are other issues which will need to be resolved.
A possible answer to 1st scenario: “I am on my way home but will

  1. check it at home or
  2. come in earlier and have it ready for you tomorrow morning”.

Positive outcome.
For the men/youngster posed with 2nd scenario – you could answer like this: “I will do it as soon as I have finished with XYZ”. Done deal, positive outcome. Domestic bliss.

And do you remember the old saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way?”. Well, there’s a way to being ‘spellbinding’.

Spell #1: Think of words as having colour. You get blue, red, yellow and green words. Blue words to describe things more conservative like words that describe figures, data, facts, solutions, details, statistics and matter of fact-ness. Red words to describe things of the heart – happy or un – like the environment, other people, ethical values, harmony and reassurance. Yellow words to describe impulsive and spontaneous things like adventure, creativity change, ideas and innovations and green words to describe things for more earnest and serious things like good tried and tested quality, tradition, safety and security, planning, organising and structure, advice and recommendations. If you go to www.thesuarus.com and type in “serious” or “creativity” or “structure” you will find a host of synonyms (words that have similar meanings) to spell up your conversation! Select one or two new ones and let them flow into your conversation for a week or two, then go and get some more!

Spell #2: Think of speakers, storytellers, presenters, teachers, trainers, doers or friends that “spelled” your attention for longer than 5 minutes – and by that, I mean where you were mesmerised, got goose-bumpy or teary. Sat there listening like a sponge absorbing every word. What kind of words did they use? Did you feel as if they were speaking just to you? What were their voices like? What were their facial expressions, non-verbal communication like hands, shoulders, posture telling you?

Don’t you just love a good story and don’t you love it being told well?

Spellbinding does not mean perfect, grammatically correct or not showing emotion. Spellbinding is the complete opposite.
Think of a time when you had a really great experience, like getting that job, or winning a competition, or having your first baby and how you felt sharing that story with others – who were listening to you in awe of you. That is spellbinding. Spellbinding is in your message, your voice, your gestures and your

Think of a time when you had a really great experience, like getting that job, or winning a competition, or having your first baby and how you felt sharing that story with others – who were listening to you in awe of you. That is spellbinding. Spellbinding is in your message, your voice, your gestures and your all-encompassing presence – that moment you create “magic”!  Anything less than that is just short of boring. Unless it is your intention to lull someone to sleep.

Don’t get me wrong. I truly appreciate your striving for professionalism in your communication but spending too much time pondering on perfection is not going to make you perfect.

You can captivate and enchant. You can inspire and make an impact. You too can cast positive magic, and be a delightfully scintillating spellbinding storyteller and conversationalist. I know you can!




Hester is a speaker and story strategist, communication craftsperson, cross-cultural connector, and change activist. She has a unique streetkid corporate savvy which allows her to share her bold yet refreshing coaching approach with clients all over the world. She has collected over 42 000 hours of lecturing, training, coaching, consulting, mediation and more recently key note speaking on the subject of cross cultural collaboration. “Being Nice Isn’t Enough – A How To Cut Through The Niceties And Get Real Collaboration” is her second book waiting to be published. Her first book is The Flying Rhino’s Guide to Intercultural Communication was commissioned in 2015. Born South African, she has lived and worked in South East Asia, the EU, and CEE. Her current address is in India. By the age of ten she had logged more than 10 000 unaccompanied flying miles and as a young person spoke on a local radio shows telling about her solo travels to far away destinations. She remains an inspiring and uplifting storyteller with the most recent highlight being a keynote on her book at the United Nations in Vienna, 21st September 2016. Read this for more on Hester (https://salt-pro.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Hester-Appoyer-Profile_2017.pdf), and get her inspirations on fb (https://www.facebook.com/SkillsandLanguageTraining?fref=ts).

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