WORDS That Lift Us UP!
..the teaching tool that you can use today.

We hear it over and over again:

What can we do about getting our staff to use better, more respectful language around people with disabilities?”

With turnover so high and continual staff shortages, how do we get across that the language our employees use really does matter?”

High Tide Press announces a new video publication, Words That Lift Us UP!, specifically designed to help providers address the language challenge:

  • How to help everyone understand the importance of language behavior
    when it comes to people who have disabilities
  • Making it easier—and more automatic—to teach new employees why we pay         attention to language in our field, what language is considered respectful (and     what language is always inappropriate)
  • How to remind staff about language use, either with a short video or through       in-person coaching

We’ll tell you how you can get a copy of Words That Lift Us UP! shortly. But first, let’s take a look at why words are so important in practically every sphere of life.

Why words matter so much

Have you had an experience like this?

You arrive for a get-together at the home of a couple with whom you’ve been friends for some time. You’re greeted at the door and offered a drink. The space looks inviting—small bites ready to nibble, glasses ready for filling. You know this couple well. They’re warm, inviting people. Easy and enjoyable to be with.

Except something’s off this evening. Even before you sit down, you feel that there’s something wrong. You have an idea about the cause of the tension in the atmosphere.

Something happened before you arrived. Words were spoken, and then more words. Hurtful words that lingered got stuck in the room, the air, but mainly in the people. It will be a while before the air clears before the atmosphere feels comfortable again. Since that probably can’t happen until after you leave, your time with these usually enjoyable people feels strained.

When words impact someone emotionally, they leave behind traces. We walk into an “atmosphere” still reverberating from the negative words exchanged between people, and we feel it—almost in a physical sense. We say there’s “warmth” between close people. But when negative words occur between those same people, we notice a “cooling” of affections. We feel a need to “clear the air.”

Words That Lift us UP! starts with Jillian, who has just arrived home from lunch with her aunt. A few words from a waiter turned what should have been an eagerly anticipated experience into an adverse event for Jillian. Jillian doesn’t realize that the waiter meant no harm. She only knows how she feels.

When it comes to supporting people with disabilities, we need to be especially aware of the emotional impact of words.

Sometimes we use words that separate us. Perhaps we inadvertently say something that leaves a person we support feeling like they are less than a “normal” person, that they are somehow less deserving. We meant no harm, but we may have bruised that relationship, reducing their trust and making our work more difficult.

That’s why we make such a big deal about language in our field. Because we are caring professionals, cultivating positive relationships is not just a nice idea; it’s necessary to accomplish our work and mission.

So, how do you teach something that may not make sense to someone new to our field? First, you help them understand WHY: it’s about empathy, which creates an atmosphere where cooperation and collaboration are possible. Only then do you teach WHAT: providing clarity about how we speak with each other here (and how we don’t). And support that with HOW: how to practice, how to stay on track. All of which serve us as caring professionals.

Learning the WHAT: What to say when:

Understanding the WHY: What’s important about positive relationships to what we do:

WORDS That Lift Us UP!

Words That Lift Us UP! is designed to help everyone understand the importance of language as we support people with disabilities. Words That Lift Us UP! starts with WHY, moving on to WHAT, and then to HOW.

After a brief introduction,

Module 1 begins with The importance of words and language behavior

Module 2: WHY it’s so important: the benefits of empathetic communication and the downsides of disdainful communication.

Module 3: WHAT to do in real situations when we’re with people we support, whether we’re talking with them or talking with others when they’re present.

Module 4: HOW to sustain our efforts in maintaining an environment of respectful language.

The complete video program is four modules of about sixty minutes.

There is also a Bonus Coaching Module:
HOW to coach an employee in using respectful language.

All of this comes with the Words That Lift Us UP! Teaching Guide including a short quiz and questions for discussion.

How we treat the people we support is more critical than ever.