As a former crisis negotiator, I know too well the value of saying the right thing at the right time. It can mean a successful conclusion to a tense situation or a bad end if the wrong thing is said. But is a kind word actually effective in helping others or does it just make you feel good by saying it?
Intuitively, and probably obviously, using harsh words won't win you friends but using nice words and compliments will. Here are some lesser known facts about the words that we use.
Science tells us that words are processed in the left side of the brain, the logic side. When we hear a song for example, the words are processed on the left and the music is processed on the right side of the brain, the creative side. Logic equals listening intently without emotion therefore we need to take care in what we say.
Psychology tells us that the words we use when talking to others indicates our own personality, emotional state, social connection and thinking style. Offering kind words increases connections in the brain and with the other person. Kind words are contagious, if someone says a nice word about you there is a tendency for you to do the same for someone else.
Research conducted on words revealed that calling a female partner 'baby' releases oxytocin in her brain therefore makes her feel good. Hence the wide use of the term 'babe'. If we hold positive words in our brain and repeat them over and over it motivates us into action. Conversely, using words such as 'can't, 'won't', and 'no' have a negative effect on us. The word 'because' has been found to be persuasive when used in sentences. People hear up to the word ‘because’ and become satisfied at that point with what you have just said. "You need to do this because...." and they don't care why.
Studies are continuing into the longer term benefits of offering someone a kind word, overwhelming evidence is that the short term benefits are enormous. As with smiling and hugging, saying a kind word not only helps the other person it also helps you.
In the words of Thumper from the movie Bambi; "If you can't say something nice, don't nothin at all".