Words are an incredibly potent and powerful thing. I don’t just mean in the sense that you can have a poem that seems to be made out of the same word over and over — shi shi or repeating buffalo and meaning an entire sentence from it. Here I refer to the power of words that might seem simple and yet have a powerful effect on those that hear them.

A couple of days ago I was walking to the subway as I normally do every morning and I had just grabbed a copy of the free daily newspaper Metro New York. I started heading down toward the stairs toward the subway — Kew Gardens / Union Turnpike when I saw that there was an MTA employee at the bottom of the stairs with a broom in her hand, staring up at the stairs and waiting for there to be a lull in the crowd so that she could clean the stairs properly.

I could see a look on her face that spoke volumes. She looked rather unhappy to be there — it wasn’t even eight in the morning and she was already busy and looking just a bit tired. I saw that people were rushing to get to the train and not even looking her way. I looked over at her and she looked up at me and she sighed. I said, “Good morning!” while lifting my tone.

The air seemed to change and a smile immediately started forming on her face and spread outward. Within moments the smile had covered her entire face and she looked right at me and said “Good morning!” I could see her teeth and knew that her mood had substantially improved.

Just as our words can have an incredible positive impact, so too they can have a strong negative impact. When you are rushing to get out of the subway car and someone is standing a little in your way, you could say, “Excuse me, sir…” or you could say, “Get OUT OF the WAY, jerk!” Both of these messages can have the same end result — a person moves out of your way. Only one of them is sure to make the person feel a little worse for being there, however. Choose to be positive and not to step on people on your way to your daily commute!

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