The Things We Say

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When we were younger, we were told stories, but they were more than just that. It was more than just speaking about an event. The stories we heard while growing up were reinforcing societal norms. These stories taught us about consequences and rewards. We learned how to act in accordance with our social groups. The things that were said to us shaped who we are now.

The things we heard growing up also shaped the way we communicate. We gravitate towards language that we know — specific words and phrases. In fact, it might feel more organic to use some homegrown slang. It’s your ‘natural’ way of speaking. As it turns out, that ‘growing up’ stage lasts a lifetime. We are constantly shaped by the conversations we have.

The fables and elements of folklore that we remember guide us in society. This is how we began to understand right from wrong. For most of us, these cultural stories built part of our identity. For better or worse, it forms an integral part of who we are. It’s eye-opening to step back and analyze how it affects us. Some of us can identify traits that are directly correlated with the stories we were told. It is enlightening to think about the rituals we develop based on what our grandparents told us.

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The way we speak and use our words definitively shape our lives. We continue to use that communicative base to interact with our current social group. These social groups change frequently and expand significantly with social media. Our individual impact can be even more significant now that contributing to large groups has become easier. We have more responsibility to bear as well, which is something many tend to forget.

Businesses now see the potential of becoming part of a societal force. This doesn’t necessarily translate into honest cultural participation. The corporate entities that piggyback on trends only ride the waves. They don’t create them. Their digital footprint is an extension of their corporate social responsibility. Few entities understand that the things they say should be based on principles they value.