After the Jump: Choosing Words Wisely

by Grace Bonney

Design*Sponge After the Jump: Choosing Your Words Wisely
This week’s radio show is about a topic that is currently very near and dear to my heart: the importance of choosing your words wisely. Since the beginning of my blogging life, I’ve made more mistakes and learned more lessons than I could possibly share in one show, but so many of them boil down to a simple piece of advice given to us by our parents long below: It’s always good to think before you speak.

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In this week’s show I’m discussing the reasons it’s important to follow that age-old advice, both professionally and personally, and then will break down the ways you can learn to choose words more wisely and how you can help others understand to do the same. Words have the power to inform, educate, hurt and heal- and so often we have the power to choose the right ones if we just take a moment to think careful. That brief pause can make the difference between a building relationship, forging a connection, or taking an opportunity for growth- both personally and professionally.

In this episode I’ll share the very personal reason this issue is on my mind lately, as well as wise words from fellow bloggers and designers like Erin Loechner, Victoria Smith, Jen Hill and others. I wanted to fit so much more into this show than I was able to, so stay tuned for a future episode where a panel will discuss these issues in greater detail. Thanks so much for listening and to everyone who took time to share their stories with me. xo, grace

Today’s show will cover:

  • Why it’s important to choose words wisely (professionally and personally)
  • Advice from business owners and bloggers about how to (and not to) use words with intention
  • Tips for learning to experience someone else’s feelings/thoughts from their perspective to lead to greater compromise
  • Resources for continuing this work at home, from books and writers to inspiring quotations

LISTEN: You can download the podcast on iTunes here, or stream it here on Heritage Radio

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  • This sounds like an amazing podcast. I read Erin’s piece on the whole American Blogger thing and while I still confused and upset about the entire documentary, I do like these words.

    • Maggie

      I feel similarly about the documentary (at least in the way it’s presented in the trailer), but I think those words are wise advice- especially when applied to that debate, as well. If people could stop and listen a bit more, I think we’d be able to understand all sides of the story a little better.


  • Grace, even before I listened to the podcast I noticed at the end that you thanked people for listening. Maybe you always thank people–but this time I really noticed it! I think you have solid advice in this episode for talking on the Internet and in every day life. I am a political science student so I can definitely agree that the power of words should never be underestimated :-)

  • It applies not just to bloggers but to everyone. I’m taking the advice about anger into my personal laboratory to test out with teen children, around whom I can’t ever seem to pause before yelling.

  • Grace – exactly! I have no doubt in my mind that all of the bloggers involved have amazing, inspiring stories to tell. The trailer, unfortunately, is very misleading in its title “American Blogger” and by suggesting that it is representing “American Bloggers,” when it is all white, affluent (appearing) family-oriented women, that is what people are upset about…no one is mad at the bloggers themselves (I follow most of them and enjoy their blogs!)

  • I listened to your show yesterday just hours after listening to a panel at the Civil Rights Summit held at UT Austin. The panel was called Social Justice in the 21st Century and included Maria Shriver, former basketball player David Robinson and others. Your thoughts echoed those I had just heard regarding words/word choice. It was so interesting to draw these parallels in these two widely different discussions, but I think it just boils down to be kind & respectful online and real life. Thank you, Grace.

  • Loved this podcast. It is such good advice for everyone. The desire to save face is alway my first instinct, but it’s so true that when someone else messes up I think “why can’t they just say sorry, at least it will break down walls and start a conversation?” At the same time, I’d hate to know I hurt someone. Thanks for your words, so much to think about.

  • I write for a living, so choosing your words carefully is my raison d’être. After all, the whole point of communication is to communicate and we all know that incorrect words equals incorrect message. But, beyond mere words, I also use my symbols correctly. This is why, for example, I don’t use an ampersand when I mean “and.” They are not interchangeable. And why I set my type correctly. I don’t for example, put my text in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS because it makes the words more difficult to read. Which is the same reason I eschew the use of italics outside of very limited circumstances, such as the title of a book. It’s also why I don’t set my words in reverse type (light text on a dark background) or, even worse, on top of a busy picture — both make the reader struggle. So choose your words (and symbols) carefully, yes, but also choose the design of your words with as much care. Beautiful words in ALL CAPS, in reverse type, on a busy background hinders communication as much as incorrect words.