Words - aren't they interesting?
A few years ago I volunteered for the nearby city's community education program and offered to teach a stress and de-stress workshop. The first half of the class was an hour examining the stressors in our lives and offered tips and techniques to work with them. The second half was an hour of yoga for all levels. A paragraph describing the workshop was included in the Community Education brochure and sent out to all of members of the area. Centered was a word I used in the description to describe what people would get out of the event and how they would feel. I was surprised at the reaction from one of my friend's friends that received the notice. She was very upset and concerned by my use of the word "centered". To her yoga was a religious practice and the word centered meant something connected to some spiritual practice that concerned her.
The truth is, by centered I meant stress free, balanced and enjoying your life. Once she heard my take on the term, she relaxed about my offering.
There was a recent protest along with debates regarding the sculpture of the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds in Oklahoma. Those against won the battle and the Ten Commandments were removed. By changing one word - "religious" to "art" or to "history" in reference to the sculpture, the Ten Commandments might still be standing on the Capitol grounds of Oklahoma.
I recently submitted a training proposal to a major corporation on Busting Assumptions - and being creative and courageous. They wanted a workshop to inspire the sales people and I have the tools to make that happen. When going through the details of the workshop with the director, I explained an exercise I would use to assess the risk taking tendencies of the audience. It was a sidewalk game I played as a child called Red Light Green Light. I have frequently used it with all levels of audiences to illustrate risk and tendencies and generate discussion. But I used the words "children's sidewalk game". The director of course was concerned about the activity being too childish (my words exactly - right?!). It is a fun engaging activity I use with adults - even executives - and they love it. Had I mentioned it as a risk taking model activity I am sure it would have elicited a completely different response.
I believe if we were to become and or/remain more open to understanding, being curious, open to possibilities and appreciative instead of taken offense to everything that isn't the way we want it to be - that the world just might be a whole lot better off.