Funny. When we were kids, most of us heard and maybe said, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” You remember that, right?

Then we grew up, and most of us learned that words do matter. Words have power. Words set the framework for how we feel, what we think, and how we act.

I realized how powerful even a single word can be when used in a negative manner when I recently heard myself say, “Wow. It’s only 9:30!” Now those words don’t sound so bad, do they? No swearing. No name-calling. But because of what those words meant at that time, they instantly killed my momentum. So much for being productive.

You spotted the word that stopped me, right? Yes. “ONLY.” As in — “I have plenty of time left in the day to finish my to-do list, so I can play some more games on the computer. I can check in to Facebook (and not leave for an hour). I can put in a load of laundry. I can write five new blog posts. I can . . . because I have all that time stretching out.”

It took me the better part of two hours to get back on track, mainly because I had given myself permission to goof off without realizing it. Now that I’m aware of it, I stop myself cold when I think it or say it, especially in the morning when I haven’t accomplished much yet.

So what stops your productivity? How do you deal with language issues that you create? What words help or hurt you?

Originally published at


  • Susan Rooks

    The Grammar Goddess | Editor / Copy Editor | Corporate Educator | Blogger | Cruciverbalist | Happy Woman

    Grammar Goddess Communication

    I help authors of anything business-related shine by finding and correcting their typos before they publish. My clients, who are bloggers, best-selling authors, web content creators, ghostwriters, even professional résumé writers, write nonfiction books, annual reports, blog posts, and tech articles. Their articles have appeared in a wide range of publications and venues including CNBC, Huffington Post, Inc., Forbes, and regional magazines. My only goal is to help all writers look and sound as smart as they are!