Dangerous Words

August 6th 2018 in Uncategorized
Photo by Jason Mutzfeld

During a recent on-site organizational coaching, we were wrapping up the day in the CEO’s office. Her office was adorned with some marvelous and eclectic art that I couldn’t help but admire, but one piece really stood out. It was calligraphy of a ‘Book Curse’. 

“For Him That Stealeth a book from this library, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with Palsy & all his members blasted. Let him…” 

….and it gets worse from there. It is both graphic and ingenious in what misfortunes, pains, and tournaments would befall the book thief.  

This particular curse was written in the 20th century but there are numerous examples found throughout European libraries. If you were the least bit superstitious and stole a book, these curses would probably keep you up at night.  

We forget that books were once extremely rare and arcane. Only the very wealthy had them in their possession. With the perfection of the moveable type printing press and the ability to create books quickly, the world entered it’s first Information Age.  

Fast forward to our current Information Age and words are everywhere. If you’re reading this you literally have access to the majority of human knowledge, perhaps even on a magic square of glass that fits in your pocket. Words are almost free.  

Written words are also one of the most effective ways of transferring ideas and stories from one person to another. They like computer code that, when read, plants ideas directly into your brain. Words are dangerous. 

Dangerous? Yes, because while words can transmit good, valid information that teaches, informs, or entertains they can also transfer bad information that misleads, hurts

or lies. If you don’t believe me, look at how the spoken word does the same thing in mass media. 

So how does this apply to your career? Simply put, what you communicate in print (resume, email, social media, etc.) can harm YOU. A person doesn’t have to meet you to form an opinion about you, they just need to read what you’ve written. It’s like the myth of the ‘Permanent Record’ that teachers used to threaten us has become real.  

So be aware that what you write down is important. Communicate clearly, concisely, and as accurately as possible. There is no nuance in text like there is in person; choose your words carefully. 

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Looking for help with your resume or career search? Merrfeld Career Management offers resume critiques and virtual coaching to make sure your message is clear. Check out our website for details: https://merrfeld.com/ 

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