Words Matter, Choose Wisely


Two women having a conversation.In early October, I spent a long weekend in Truckee, California. While exploring the town, I did what I often do. I found a cute bookstore and wandered around. I love books. I also love impulse purchases at the counter, so in addition to a book I didn’t *need* but had to have, I also bought two stickers and a pen with the phrase “words matter” written on the side (how could I not!?).

This isn’t my first post about the topic of words. They’re really, really important. 

The words we say, the ones we choose, and how we frame them are deeply important in connecting with others and conveying our values. Are you choosing wisely?

The most common question upon meeting new people is, “What do you do?” It’s often an inquiry about your occupation. Personally, I think we can do better. 

Some people love their jobs, which can spark an exciting and insightful conversation. But when talking to kids, we often ask questions like, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and “Where do you want to go to college?”

I suppose these questions are OK, but they convey an understanding of what we think is most important, or at least what’s most interesting and what we should focus on. What if we aren’t?  

What if we reframed the questions? What if we asked different questions to show that we care about other parts of each other’s lives?

My favorite question to ask (my kids, new people, old friends) is, “What are you excited about?” You can’t fake the answer. Asking someone what they’re excited about can change the energy of a conversation or a room. It’s less about what we’re focused on producing or accomplishing and more about who we are and what we’re becoming. 

There are many ways to create engaging and interesting conversations where you let people lead a discussion in a direction that lights them up. Maybe it is their work, but maybe it’s something completely unexpected. The same old questions would never get you there.

Words matter. Are you using them wisely?

What’s your favorite question when you meet new people?

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Lauren Schwarzfeld was born and raised in Yorktown, and aside from college in Boston and a few months living in New York City, she has spent her entire life in Westchester. She has lived in Mt Kisco with her husband Karl since 2006, where they have three kids, Mia (2008), Jacob (2009), Abigail (2012), and two dogs, Edna (a four-year-old beagle) and Felix (a one-year-old pitbull-lab mix). Lauren is a writer, coach, and leader in community engagement. She helps women rediscover their strengths, passion, and confidence to reclaim their spot in their life and step outside the box of perceived expectations. Her goal is for women to create a future that is authentically and unapologetically their own. As the Chief Operating Officer at (914) Cares, a local non-profit, she combines her business background with a passion for volunteer work and desire to care for the community around her. Connect with Lauren on Facebook or through her website!


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