Emojis at Work: Yes or No?

by Holly Brochmann

Emojis: You either love ‘em, or you hate ‘em. If you’re indifferent, you probably lean toward the latter category. In this digital era that thrives on impersonal forms of communication, emojis can inject personality into a text or email. They can convey humor, sarcasm, annoyance, or an array of other sentiments when words alone cannot. They are also fun, whimsical, and often even silly. So what about the use of emojis in a professional setting. Are they unprofessional? 

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, at least in my opinion. It’s mostly a matter of personality and personal preference, though it can be a bit tricky when opposing viewpoints collide. As someone who has big emotions and is also in the business of communications, I’m on Team Love ‘em. With the help of emojis, there’s less room for misinterpretation of an intended tone in a message. For example:

1. I’m so mad at you

2. I’m so mad at you ????

The words are exactly the same, but the emoji completely changes the tone of the statement. Number one comes across as pretty literal – perhaps I actually am mad at you. But in two, it’s pretty clear that my “madness” isn’t genuine, and that my good humor about the situation is intact.

In a personal setting, even if my communication is with someone I don’t know very well, I have no problem letting my personality show through the use of emojis. I’d say I use them in at least 85 percent of my personal messages.

In a WORK setting, however, these are the general guidelines I follow:

  1. With colleagues or industry peers who know me well, emoji away.
  2. When communicating with someone new and I am in a position of authority, I’ll use them, but not in abundance and only as needed. I’m not worried about coming across as unprofessional – it’s more important to me that my tone and intended meaning are accurately communicated.
  3. When communicating with someone new and THEY are in a position of authority (a superior, client, job interviewer, etc.) I follow their lead – if they use them, I will, too. If they don’t, I don’t. In this case, I feel it’s better to err on the side of caution. I don’t want to be seen as frivolous or unprofessional if that’s how they view emojis.

At the end of the day, the use of emojis doesn’t warrant a huge debate. Yet I still took the time to write this blog because emojis are a detail, and to me, details matter.

What’s your opinion about emojis at work: yes or no?

So, why are we here on earth?

by Bob Hope

Every human wants to feel significant and appreciated.  But that can sometimes seem like an impossible goal.

After all, there are eight billion people on earth, and each of us is only granted a relatively short and finite time on earth.  There are millions of solar systems and planets.  Our significance can cynically be seen as not more important than a speck of dust in the continuum of time.

I think I solved that dilemma.  I ventured to a very remote place 25 years ago.  It is the Agalta Valley in the state of Olancho in rural Honduras.  Olancho, if you don’t know, is known as the “Wild West” of Honduras.  Its theme was printed on T-shirts that read, “Olancho.  Come if you will. Leave if you can.”  It was a place of legend.  The legend was the “Lost City of the Monkey Gods.”  The ghosts of the monkey gods were supposedly in the mountains, and anyone who ventured into the valley would be cursed.  Luckily, I didn’t know that.

We traveled eleven hours from the airport in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, the last several hours on treacherous dirt roads winding through the mountains.  When we approached a river or stream, the only option was to find a shallow place to drive through.  There were no bridges.

The only people who lived there were the natives whose homes were tiny houses made of mud bricks and whatever other materials they could gather to use for construction.  They were lovely people, but they had nothing.  Somehow, they didn’t seem poor.  They were happy; they just didn’t have any possessions.  They also didn’t have schools.  It was a place that time and the government had forgotten.

I asked teenagers what they wanted to do when they grew up.  Their responses were based on what they knew.  All the girls wanted to have babies and live in their villages.  The boys wanted to be truck drivers (there were only a very few trucks) and ranch guards.  It was a remote but very simple life.

I was charmed and wanted to do something to help.  An organization called Honduras Outreach, based in Atlanta, had built a ranch there, and church groups had begun visiting and working in villages installing cement floors, building latrines and basins for washing.  That didn’t appeal to me.  I asked if there were other options.  I was told they wanted schools and asked if I could bring some people from the states and help them figure out how to build schools.  I agreed to try.

That was a quarter century ago.  Since then, each spring I gather a group of friends and friends of friends to travel to the place.  There are now over 50 of us.  We’ve helped fund and build marvelous schools, schools that would rival anything you might have in your community.  In a country where only about 60 percent of youngsters ever go to school and only about 60 percent of those make it through sixth grade, our students all graduate from high school and almost all go on to college.  They are bright, bright-eyed, and even though I don’t speak Spanish, they speak English.  It teaches clearly that education is the solution to almost all problems when it comes to building a community and converting difficult living conditions into living in a paradise.

I just returned from this year’s trip.  The school complex is beautiful, and the students are even more beautiful. They are filled with hopes and dreams.  When asked what they would like to do in their lives, answers include being a doctor, or a scientist or a computer programmer.  The schools are mostly built and just need upgrading and maintenance.  When we arrived, there was a brand-new cement building that would become the first grade and kindergarten.  Our group quickly had it painted and ready for students.  There were other projects at the school, but with 50 of us, two teams volunteered to travel to somewhat remote (an hour and a half away) mountain villages and put in the cement floor in homes, build latrines and basins for bathing.  Others divided up to do assorted projects, like installing 125 water filters in homes so they would have clean water to drink.

It is an amazing experience.  Everyone in the group thrives on the joy of helping others, meeting new friends and better understanding what’s important in life.  One of the most amazing things is how people in our group bond and become lifetime friends.

Even those who reluctantly came on the trip are committing to come back in the future.  I am not suggesting that a trip like this is for everyone.  Sometimes our group members come once, and that is enough for them.  However, for everyone, it is an experiment to find a purpose and passion in life that adds to their own sense of significance and inspires them to give back some of the blessings they’ve accumulated.

I love this trip, this work, the people who have become friends in Honduras and greatly love the people who travel with me to this very remote place in the world.   You should consider trying it.  There is a chance that you might be hooked on it forever.  If you want to give it a try, our annual trip will be March 1-8 next year.  You are welcome to join us.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Why are people so mad? What is causing us to become so firmly planted in our ideas and beliefs that we cannot even engage with someone who may differ in those beliefs? It saddens me! So, what can we do to be happier and to coexist? 

There is such heightened polarization in the world, in our country, in our neighborhoods and even in our families. And when you couple that intolerance with the abundance and fascination with guns, we have a real catalyst for tragedy. Is there anything we can do?  I believe there are several things we as individuals MUST do.

First, accept that we are all different; we all have the freedom to believe as we choose. We may live in a neighborhood to which some have applied a label – racist or liberal or wealthy or poor – but the truth is, most neighborhoods are not generic, even if a label has been applied. Look for the good in each other. Find the commonality. We are all human! I am reminded of the remembrance Stephen Colbert shared about this friend Toby Keith after Keith’s recent death from stomach cancer. The two seemed to have very little in common. In fact, Cobert recalls that before meeting Keith for the first time, he stopped and said to himself, “He’s your guest. Make him feel welcome. See who he is.” When Cobert did that he said, “We hit it off like a house on fire. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed talking to him. And, evidently, Toby had a good time, too…” Certainly the public personas of these two would show them as adversaries, but they became good friends. They maintained different political views and different beliefs about many things, but they found their commonality, their humanity. Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet and scholar said, “The lamps are different, but the light is the same.”

Second, be happy! For many, that is an overwhelming and difficult task – and may even seem selfish. The Dalai Lama argues that it is just the opposite. Unhappy people are more self-absorbed than happy people, who are compassionate, helpful, and generous. That is why it is your purpose as a human to seek happiness. The key to happiness is peace of mind. This cannot be bought. Inner peace must come from within. The Dalai Lama espouses that the purpose of life is to be happy. Being happy involves understanding the difference between the sensory or physical and the mental feeling of joy. The sensory/physical is usually short-lived; inner/mental joy sustains itself.

“Be happy” is an easy phrase to say but much more difficult to actually be. Personally, I start by trying to be grateful for what I have. At my age, when I wake up each morning, I am grateful! One more day to enjoy! And before I go to sleep each night, I try to name three things I am grateful for that day. It could be an enjoyable conversation with a friend or family member, a beautiful sunrise or, on a more difficult day, simply that the day is finally over! I try not to worry too much about things. Worry isn’t helpful.  If I have a problem, I try to think of the best plan of action (or sometimes the worst that could happen) and then let it go.  That is not always easy. Mark Twain said, “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.”

When I am able to do these things, I am happier, and I am a kinder, more tolerant person. “Remember, our purpose is not to separate ourselves from one another, but to join forces and collectively enhance the well-being of humanity,” Marcus Aurelius 

Or stated another way – A Muslim, a Jew, a Christian, a Pagan and an Atheist all walk into a coffee shop…and they talk, laugh, drink coffee and become good friends.  It’s not a joke. It’s what happens when you’re not an A!@#$%^.

What to Expect as We Navigate Our Way Through 2024

We have finally made it through the first month of 2024! Now that we have officially kicked-off the new year, let’s take a look at what we can expect to see in the world of public relations.

1. Data is Key

PR professionals are increasingly relying on analytics, tools and artificial intelligence to collect and examine data for more targeted and effective campaigns. By harnessing the power of data, we, as PR teams, can better understand an audience’s behavior, track campaign performance, and make informed decisions.

“A more meaningful and targeted message for the audience can go a long way and have a lasting impact on the brand in question. So keep an eye on data analytics and the tools that make a data-driven approach possible.”

PR Lab

2. AI and Chatbots

AI-powered chatbots are no longer a novelty; they are an essential part of modern public relations. AI-powered chatbots are being used for customer service, crisis management, and even media relations. They provide immediate responses, gather information, and offer a seamless communication network between organizations and their stakeholders.

In fact, our HBE team even attended a PRSA luncheon this month where we learned more about how these AI resources can also assist with event planning, script writing and so much more!

“Artificial intelligence serves as a valuable complement to human expertise, rather than a replacement, in our work. The use of AI-powered tools can help in areas such as analyzing data, providing real-time insights into public perception, generating content, and assisting in crafting strategies and responses.”

– Jenna Guarneri, Forbes

3. Hyper-personalization

Although AI is becoming increasingly powerful and popular, consumers and clients expect personalized experiences. PR campaigns are becoming more granular and tailored to specific audience segments. Hyper-personalization involves creating content and messaging that resonates on an individual level, fostering a stronger connection between brands and their target audiences.

“As consumer expectations shift and the demand for more authentic interactions increases, taking a more humanized approach in the way in which you interact with people is important… In this digital era, where we are seeing an exponential increase in AI-driven technology, emotional connections and the human touch are more crucial than ever.”

– Jenna Guarneri, Forbes

4. Social & Global Responsibility

Consumers are holding brands accountable for their social impact. PR professionals are likely to be helping organizations navigate social responsibility initiatives and communicate their efforts effectively. Ethical business practices and meaningful corporate social responsibility will be front and center.

Additionally, as the world faces an ever-evolving landscape of global crises, from health emergencies to geopolitical tensions, PR professionals need to be prepared for crisis communication on a global scale, emphasizing transparency and providing accurate information to alleviate risks.

“The definition of quality corporate social responsibility (CSR) in 2024 is very different from its definition just a few years ago. Consumers have been gravitating toward sustainability-focused brands for a while now, and they’ve grown ever more savvy at distinguishing real commitment from half-hearted CSR boilerplate. Accordingly, one of the central tasks of any PR firm in 2024 is going to be teaching brands the difference and helping them communicate their initiatives accordingly.”

– John Marino, Forbes

In conclusion, 2024 is marked by an assortment of technology, responsibility, and personalization. To succeed in this industry, PR professionals must continue to embrace data, leverage new technologies, and align their strategies with the values of their audiences. Staying adaptable is key to navigating the ever-changing PR landscape in the years ahead.

What other PR trends do you see heading our way this year? Let us know what you think we should be on the lookout for as we journey onward through 2024!

2023: A Name Change and a Step Forward in Multicultural Communications

By Gina Espinosa-Meltzer

We’re looking forward with excitement as we begin our 30th anniversary year. But first, I want to reflect on what was a very eventful 2023. 

When I joined Hope-Beckham two years ago, we set a goal to embrace the growing multicultural market, and we have done that successfully. 

We changed our name this year to Hope Beckham Espinosa. Adding a Hispanic name to the company, my name, is a clear statement of just how important this market is to us. 

We began 2023 with what became an award-winning multicultural campaign, Seguros al Volante (Safe at the Wheel), a corporate social responsibility effort to help Latinos learn how to drive more safely in the U.S. and to answer their many questions about how car insurance works here. It was also a successful sales, marketing and branding campaign for our client, auto insurer AssuranceAmerica. 

With more than 700,000 Hispanics living in metro Atlanta, more than 1 million in Georgia, and more than 62 million across the U.S., companies are increasingly aware of the fast-gowing Hispanic market. But it’s only a select few that have begun to communicate with this market, and not just by translating marketing materials into Spanish, but by understanding the culture and the ways to reach this audience. 

I urge you not to wait until Hispanic Heritage Month begins in September to start speaking with the Hispanic market, and don’t confine your efforts to that celebration, just as you should pay attention to the important African-American community all year, and not just during Black History Month. 

To help clients with the multicultural market, we continued to strengthen the talent on our team this year. 

We expanded our services to include a full range of communications offerings: media relations, social media, marketing, branding, community relations, events and corporate introductions. 

And because we know corporations are eager to diversify their supplier networks, we’ve applied for certification as both a minority-owned and woman-owned company. We expect to receive those certifications very soon. 

Bob Hope and the late Paul Beckham started Hope-Beckham in 1994, so we will celebrate our 30thanniversary in 2024. I’m incredibly honored to lead this company now, with Bob’s support, in a new direction, and to continue the legacy he and Paul started. 

Thank you to all our wonderful clients. It’s been a pleasure working with you this past year.  

We look forward to adding to that roster this year. Please reach out if we can help. 

Gen Z Brings New Insights to Traditional PR

By: Mariana Lopez

Hello! I’m Mariana Lopez, the latest addition to the Hope Beckham Espinosa team. Born in Venezuela, my education took me from India’s UWC international school for the IB to majoring in Advertising at the University of Florida. The power of communication – shaping opinions, fostering connections, and making lasting impressions – has always fascinated me.

Besides bringing a global perspective, I reflect the outlook of my generation, Gen Z. Let’s explore how Gen Z is reshaping public relations. Born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, this generation embodies tech-savviness, authenticity, and innovation. 

Let’s explore three key communication aspects of Gen Z.

Authenticity at the Core: Gen Z values authenticity above all. In PR, this means a shift toward genuine and relatable strategies. Unlike past generations, members of Gen Z spot inauthentic content instantly. Transparency, honesty and personal connection matter. PR pros should focus on crafting narratives that resonate, forging deep audience bonds. Their agility in adopting new technologies, platforms, and trends invigorates agency approaches, injecting a modern twist into traditional PR.

Born into the Digital Era with Technological Proficiency: Gen Z, who are digital natives, are fluent in social media, influencers, viral trends. Their Tech-Savvy Nature is invaluable for PR. They navigate platforms and craft relatable content. Their insights fuel innovative PR campaigns, combining modern digital skills with established methods. Their grasp of emerging tech and digital trends makes PR relevant and engaging. Their expertise in digital analytics supports data-driven decisions, allowing for precise impact assessment.

Driven by Purpose: Gen Z is dedicated to social and environmental causes. Members of the group expect brands to share their values and drive positive change. PR aligns with this by linking campaigns to meaningful causes. Gen Z seeks brands committed to bettering the world. PR practitioners spotlight purpose-driven initiatives, while Gen Z’s inclusive mindset brings cultural sensitivity to the agency. This is valuable when working with diverse clients or reaching global audiences. Their skill in bridging connections allows them to effectively access new markets.

Incorporating these aspects into PR strategies is transformative. Gen Z’s perspective shifts communication profoundly, enabling PR pros to deeply connect with audiences. 

I’m proud to be part of Hope Beckham Espinosa, contributing to this transformative journey and helping shape PR’s future.

April Showers Bring May Flowers… and EVENTS!

By: Hilary Bumm

“April showers bring May flowers” is a popular saying used often during the month of April. This is typically the time when the last bit of snowfall turns to only rainfall as temperatures climb. The increased rain shower activity sparks flowers and plants to really start growing and blooming.

The saying can be traced back to England from the 1500s poet Thomas Tusser. Back then, he wrote “Sweet April showers do spring May Flowers”. As well, a longer phrase, “March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers,” has been traced back to 1886.

Regardless, the month of April brings huge weather swings with the jet stream lifting northward at the start of spring. As winter comes to an end, precipitation falls more as rain instead of snow, especially here in Georgia.

The reference to April showers likely originated in the United Kingdom or Ireland, where the month of April tends to be especially rainy because of the position of the jet stream. The cooler climate in these areas also tends to push back the appearance of many flower species to late April and early May.

That old adage doesn’t necessarily ring true, though, especially in warmer climates. Rather than being rooted in botany, the phrase may be a simple way to avoid the blahs of rainy weather by focusing instead on the beauty of better weather ahead.

Thus, with event season in full bloom, the parallel of behind-the-scenes work is not lost. We at Hope-Beckham are grateful for those plentiful April showers of activity, the preparation that happens beneath the soil, and the opportunity to serve our clients.

This time of year, we bustle around preparing for client events. Providing great attention to detail, we ensure adequate staffing, finalize venue logistics, arrange for all the amenities and much more that go into creating a successful event. Then, just like the May flowers, we can experience the jubilant blossoming of successful client events!

Great Storytelling Never Changes

By: Bob Hope

The world changes, but great storytelling never does.

I have more experience in public relations and communications than anyone else on earth. That’s not bragging. It is just the way it is.

After all, I started working in public relations when I was in college and became public relations director of the Atlanta Braves at age 24, immediately dealing with hundreds of media who were traveling with Hank Aaron during his chase of the all-time home run record. That counts for dog years of experience. Then, I worked directly for Ted Turner during the “make me famous” phase of his life. That counts for hyper dog years. I also worked for years in New York City at the top level of the largest public relations agency in the world, and my specialty was dealing with big-name CEOs, so that adds up to even more dog years of experience. So, conservatively, in a normal world, I have abnormal experiences. It is fair to say I have well over a century of experiences jammed into a half-century of working in communication. So, I must have learned something or at least developed some seasoned observations.

So, here are 10:

  1. There are good leaders and bad ones. The good ones typically know how to communicate well. Management and leadership are nothing more than being able to communicate well. Think about the kids’ game of telephone, where a group sits in a circle and whispers a message from one to the next until it circles the room. In the end, the message that started is typically distorted and nowhere close to the one that started. Now, think of the CEO at the top of a company with hundreds or even thousands of employees. If the message at the top isn’t clear, there is no way it will make it to the workers. It is all about communication.

  2. If you are a leader, there is no such thing as a casual or inconsequential comment. Because of your leadership position, people tend to listen and react to what you say. Don’t take that for granted. There is power in your words.

  3. If you are speaking to a crowd, realize that the attention span of the average person is seven minutes, and everyone isn’t on the same time clock. You need to get the attention of the group and keep their attention. So, every seven minutes, it is necessary to reset their clocks, even by saying something like, “Listen closely to what I am about to say; it is very important.”

  4. Some words are much more impactful than others. The average movie contains about 30,000 words. Yet, one sentence from a movie can live on in memories while others are forgotten. “Make my day…… Frankly my dear…. There’s no crying in baseball.” Try to master the art of creating a memorable phrase. We go on a “wild goose chase” or “break the ice” at the start of a meeting or think “love is blind” because Shakespeare told us those things 400 years ago.

  5. A big idea is in the eye of the beholder. Something similar is said about beauty. Sometimes ordinary ideas can be great simply because of the passion and power that are put behind them.  

  6. Fame has power. If you aren’t famous, you chase down opportunities one at a time. If you are famous, the world comes to you. It is much easier to have people line up and present opportunities to you than to chase them down one at a time.

  7. Great stories take on lives of their own. We too often worry about how to communicate rather than what to communicate. The power is in the message.

  8. Organizations are like people. They have distinct personalities based on more than what product they sell. In a competitive environment, the most beloved company most often wins.

  9. Newspapers are still alive and well. It is popular to say that the newspaper industry is dying, and in fact, the industry is changing. However, because of the internet, newspapers have more readers today than in the past. Also, business leaders sometimes say they don’t care about the local newspaper because of their perception that people don’t read it. One thing they can count on is that every one of their employees will read it if the news is about their company. Newspapers still have power, and mainstream media still leads and prioritizes the news.

  10. Creativity makes a huge difference when communicating and motivating. In a cluttered media world, the clever phrase or approach is needed more today than ever before. P.T. Barnham wrote a paper called, “The Art of Publicity,” which is an education in creativity. He wrote about his opening the P.T. Barnham Museum in New York and how he did everything smart marketers told him to do – ran ads, gave out free tickets, passed out flyers. They didn’t work, and then his money ran out. What he did to make the museum successful teaches more about marketing than any four-year degree. Brilliant.

Good communication is at the heart of informing, motivating, inspiring, creating devotion, love, and reaction. Bill Gates is famous in the PR industry for saying that he would spend his last dollar on PR and that telling the story of any product is at the core of success. That makes perfect sense. It is amazing how some corporate leaders understand that and others don’t.  

The Super-Power of Thank You

By: Hilary Bumm

Not only is it good manners to say thank you, but it’s also a proven mood-booster.

It’s considered common courtesy to send a thank-you note to someone who gives you a gift, attends your event or does something kind. A thoughtfully composed thank-you note, whether it’s designed to impress a hiring manager or simply express gratitude to someone who helped you, should not be underestimated.

Meanwhile, a pretty dope phenomenon occurs when we say thank you. As a prolific writer (well, scribbler) of thank you notes, I found this study fascinating. Research indicates that being thanked can make the recipient feel happier and more engaged while increasing the emotional intelligence of the person saying (or writing) it.

When we give and receive thank-you notes, our brain is automatically redirected to pay attention to what we have, producing intrinsic motivation and a strong awareness of the present. Also, at the neurochemical level, gratitude acts as a catalyst for neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine – the ones that manage our emotions, anxiety and immediate stress responses.

How-to

Writer’s block? Often, the simpler, the better is the key to a well-written thank you. In his 1876 book, How To Write Letters, English professor J. Willis Westlake was among the first to create templates for proper thank-you letters. Fast forward two centuries later, his advice holds true.

Take pains; write as plainly and neatly as possible—rapidly if you can, slowly if you must. Good writing affects us sympathetically, giving us a higher appreciation both of what is written and of the person who wrote it. Do not say, I have not time to be so particular. Take time; or else write fewer letters and shorter ones.

History

According to stationer Caspari, the first versions of thank you notes originated in the 1400s when Europeans exchanged greeting cards with friends and family members. This was a new form of social expression that involved delivering the notes by hand. Even earlier, the Chinese and Egyptian people wrote messages on papyrus paper to communicate with their friends and wish one another good luck.

Psych

Dr. Alex Korb, neuroscientist and author of Upward Spiral, concludes that “gratitude forces us to focus on the positive sides of life. In short, gratitude can boost neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine.”

Dopamine is our brain’s pleasure chemical. That dope occurrence is magnified by the physical act of engaging in an activity that expresses gratitude, such as writing that thank you.

How’s that for win-win? The next time you grab your pen and paper or head to your keyboard to say thanks, see for yourself!

The Power of Words

By: Ann Nelson

OK, I admit it. I listen to NPR. That fact may say more about my age than anything else – but that is an entirely different blog!

But back to NPR…NPR once broadcast of series of essays entitled “This I Believe.” The essays were sometimes written by famous or renowned people. Often, they were ordinary people with an extraordinary ability to communicate a thought, concept or belief. They all very clearly illustrate my belief … I believe in the power of words.

If you doubt that words are powerful, just witness the anguish caused by teens and even tweens bullying with words sent via text messages or posted on social media. A young person can become distraught over a misspoken word or biting remark by a BFF. I cannot even imagine the pain that would be inflicted by the sort of dirty campaigns that some kids have had to endure at the hands of their peers. The relative anonymity of the internet allows the bullying to continue far too long and the message to be distributed far too quickly and widely.

Recently, we have seen how words have spurred action. A news report on the climate-induced famine in Madagascar prompted more than 22,000 listeners to donate more than $2.7 million to famine relief. Hearing the words that our neighbors and fellow human beings are suffering has encouraged more and more of us who are able to become involved, to donate our time and our money to help relieve the pain we read those words about.

However, all too often lately, we have seen how words have been used to cause pain, disruption and anguish. I’m not referring to the misspoken word that is hurtful or the thoughtless comment that crushes. More and more it seems, words are being used to wreak havoc, cause disruptions and encourage forceful behavior.

There is no doubt that words spoken at a rally, and before, encouraged those with sincere belief in the speaker, to march on the U. S. Capitol with violence, causing destruction and deaths. Words did that!

There are more examples than I wish to cite of words used to bolster, inspire and support damaging actions. The past couple of years have been tough. We are all dealing with a new sort of reality, and we all cope with these things differently.

Let’s all try to use our words carefully and in the kindest way possible. Say “please” and “thank you” whenever you can – even if you have to force it a bit. Smile under that mask and the words will sound even kinder.

When you read someone else’s words, be careful that you are reading a trusted, informed source and not just someone who posted it online. I call the internet the “World’s Bathroom Wall.” Read things you find there accordingly!

But most of all, remember that your words — spoken, written or posted – can and will have an impact on others. Make sure that impact is positive