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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Henderson

The Power of Words: A Deep Dive with Terre Short

Terre Short Smiling
Words Have Power


In a world filled with constant chatter, it's easy to overlook the profound impact that our words can have on our lives. In a recent interview with Terre Short, the author of "The Words We Choose," we delved into the transformative power of language and the crucial role it plays in shaping our destinies. Join us on a journey through Terre Short's insights on the significance of words, the art of effective communication, and the intersection between well-being and leadership.


The Potency of Words:

The conversation began with Michelle Henderson highlighting the potency of words and their ability to shape our reality. Terre Short emphasized the importance of not only choosing positive words but also being mindful of the internal narrative we create for ourselves. The interview revealed how the words we think and speak can manifest positive or negative outcomes in our lives, serving as a reminder of the incredible power we hold within our language.


The Birth of "The Words We Choose":

Terre Short shared her journey of writing "The Words We Choose," explaining that the book had been brewing within her for a long time. It was inspired by her experiences coaching others and observing the impact of words in various industries, particularly hospitality and healthcare. The realization that individuals often minimize themselves through their choice of words became the driving force behind the book's creation.


Understanding Emotional Intelligence:

The conversation delved into the importance of emotional intelligence in effective communication. Terre emphasized that communication is an "inside job" and encouraged individuals to start with self-awareness. By asking questions about emotional regulation and self-awareness, individuals can reflect on their internal narrative and communicate more thoughtfully with others.


The Power of Reinforcement:

Terre Short brought attention to the significance of reinforcement in communication, especially when dealing with children. Instead of labeling a child as "good," she suggested praising specific actions to reinforce positive behavior. This subtle shift in language contributes to a healthier mindset and encourages the repetition of positive actions.


Navigating Grief with Empathy:

The interview touched upon the delicate topic of grieving and the challenge of finding the right words to comfort someone. Terre Short shared insights from her friend, Lisa Long, who had experienced the loss of a child. The importance of avoiding statements like "I know what you're going through" was emphasized, along with the power of listening and saying, "Tell me more."


Meditation, Prayer, and Gratitude:

Terre Short discussed the significance of clarity in meditation and prayer. Drawing parallels to an internet search, she highlighted the importance of being clear about intentions to receive meaningful guidance. The conversation touched on the transformative nature of prayer, emphasizing that it changes individuals, who in turn, can change their circumstances.


Thriving Leader Collaborative:

Transitioning to her business, Thriving Leader Collaborative, Terre Short explained its mission to create a greater intersection between well-being and leadership. She highlighted the importance of prioritizing well-being to promote productivity. The six pillars of well-being and six personas of a thriving leader form the foundation of their coaching, speaking engagements, and annual retreat.


Parting Words:

In parting, Terre Short encouraged individuals to recognize the collective impact of their voices. She emphasized that each person's voice contributes to shaping the world, urging everyone to make daily choices that elevate each other and contribute to the greater good.



Terre Short's insights serve as a powerful reminder of the influence our words have on our lives and the world around us. As we navigate the intricate web of communication, may we choose our words wisely, embrace empathy, and strive for a world where well-being and leadership coexist harmoniously.

Transcript of Episode:

Michelle Henderson  (00:09):

Did you know how powerful words that you speak and also the words that you think are so powerful and it can actually change your life. You can manifest to positive things or you can manifest negative things. This is your choice. Now, today I am interviewing Terry Short. She is the author of the Words We Choose, and I absolutely love this conversation. It's really passionate topic for me because I really feel like a lot of people don't realize how powerful these words are. And a lot of people think, oh, the words that I speak out loud, I'm going to stick with positive and be very positive. But internally, are you thinking positive words? And again, it can be such a big impact in your life. So I hope that you enjoy this conversation and I hope that you choose how to use your words.

I do want to dive into your book so much. I want to talk about, because when I was reading it, I thought, oh, I've got to take the notes. I'm such a school teacher. But I love this because being a school teacher and talking to the kids explaining what your words are so important, it really changes the way that you are and how you bring things to you, manifests things to you, and they get you into trouble. And I know that you were writing this during COVID, which is good for you. And so I know it's so hard to write a book and you actually did a lot of good research. You had a lot of good examples about your life. So what made you feel like, you know what? I need to get this out. I need to really share with people why it is important.

Terre Short (02:10):

Yeah, excellent question. I think about this a lot. I had this book in me for a really, really long time, and I think everybody has a book in them basically. And then I feel like you get to a place where it just has to come out, birth and a baby, you're like, okay, I'm ready. And so that's what it was, is that even though it had been noodling around in there for quite some time, based on how I was coaching others, the words that they were choosing, they were minimizing themselves by choosing certain words. And we can talk about those certain words, but by coaching others and understanding their internal narrative and how they were choosing to minimize themselves, and then hearing others minimize when speaking, when they're conversing with somebody else. I've gone, oh my goodness. And then for both of the industries that I worked in and hospitality and healthcare, watching the impact of words on guests, on patients, the doctor to the patient. And so I just sort of built upon itself and then all of a sudden I went, well, hang on. We're doing this.

Michelle Henderson  (03:21):

That is so interesting. And I actually went through, back then it was called Toastmasters and Public Speaking and learning how to public speak and knowing words are so important to the ones that you use to impact your audience. And to me, I was going, oh my gosh, I wish I had this book way back then. Because it is important for any job to know that whatever you say, especially being a patient and going in to see a doctor, and if the doctor doesn't make you feel comfortable, it's very difficult and words can embrace you in that moment. At the very beginning of your book, which I love this, that you went ahead and you involved emotional intelligence, you added that into it because I think that is so important. Can you explain why it's important whenever you're speaking and the words that you choose, how does that correlate with emotional intelligence?

Terre Short (04:22):

Oh, absolutely. So first of all, it's an inside job, right? Communication starts with, it's an inside job nowadays, didn't, you don't see this in the book, Michelle, but nowadays I talk about it as your personal podcast. We have our earbuds in and we're listening to your podcast. We're also listening to our own internal podcast 24 7, sometimes three o'clock in the morning. And so one must get those words right first before they can endeavor to communicate well with others. And so that's why I start there because that self-awareness, which is one of the five components of emotional intelligence, comes first. I've got to say, this is an inside job. What do I want to change? Want to change, not need to change, have to change, but what do I want to change about my internal narrative that then allows me to present myself differently when I'm conversing with others? So it had to start there. So I went through and made sure in the book, made sure that everybody understood those components and how to leverage communication in their own narrative. I offer questions to ask yourself about your emotional regulation, about your self-awareness so that when you're reflecting and contemplating your internal narrative, you're being incredibly thoughtful. And it starts there.

Michelle Henderson  (05:45):

And I love that because that's where our self-esteem comes from. And I actually caught myself one time. I was talking to somebody and I said something and she goes, Michelle, that is so negative about you. You just put yourself down. And I'm going, but I was just joking. But you don't realize that even though you're joking, you're actually putting yourself down. It's more of that self-awareness component. I've got to be real careful of the words I choose whenever I'm talking about myself. And there's one quote that I wrote down, and I love it. It says, the voice in your head is incredible power.

Terre Short (06:20):

Yes, indeed.

Michelle Henderson  (06:23):

And I love that because even, and I tell people, the more negative you are with your inner voice, the more negative you'll feel and the energy that you have will kind of come down from that. So how do you tell people, change that negativity into positivity?

Terre Short (06:44):

Yep. Well, it starts with the emotional intelligence so that you are doing that, that you are your friend pointed it out to you, but if the friend doesn't point it out to you, you have to have that self-awareness to realize that you're having this downward spiral. So this downward spiral to negativity, it's born out of a lot of things like your teacher. It's just born out of what we heard from our teachers, what we heard from our parents, what we heard from our siblings, our friends. And so that downward spiral is a loop of all those stories and all that information that we've been gathering my case for decades, and we get to a place where we have a choice. I say that over and over again in the book, that internal voice, that voice is a choice, and we have a choice to believe that narrative or to change it and spiral back upwards with a positive narrative.

So that's what I would advise is that can't change everything at once, but think about the recording, the repetitive negative narrative that keeps appearing and decide to change it. This is the question I asked myself. What value is there in me believing that and continually hearing that play over in my head? What value is there? 90% of the time the answer is there isn't any. So if there's no value to me or this does not align with my values, then I'm compelled to change the narrative and to literally say something to myself that's different and positive and uplifting, and then start to repeat that and have that on autoplay instead.

Michelle Henderson  (08:22):

Oh, I love it. Absolutely love it. Okay. Just like what you were talking about is our belief system and the section, whenever you're talking about whenever our words with children, with our children. And the one thing that really stuck out, and I'd never thought about that because you hear this a lot, is if you have a child like your son picking up toys and you go, that's a good boy. Explain what that means behind those words, and I would've never thought about that. Can you go into that?

Terre Short (08:56):

Absolutely. So you're applying that goodness to the boy, and that's not actually your intention. You want to reinforce the good thing that the boy's doing because when we say you're a good boy or a good boy doing that, we're ingraining over and over again that I must be good. Now I want my parent to say, good boy that I must be good. We're setting this expectation and unrealistic expectation, whereas what we want to do is reinforce the doing of this and this, and this is good. It creates goodness in the world. And so we want to reinforce that. That's a great job picking up your toys or that was a wonderful thing that you just said to your sister. And so the goodness is wrapped up in the actions that we want to reinforce so that we see more of them.

Michelle Henderson  (09:51):

Yeah, I love it. Yeah, whenever I saw that, I went, oh, that is so true. And I'm going, I think I did that as a mom, and I think we all did sworn behavior that we've done from generation to generation. So I thought I would bring that up here. And even as a teacher, you got to really look at, I guess the behavior component of how they are behaving now since we're talking about children, the habit words that people, and you bring this up in the book, the habit words that we tend to say constantly, and I know my oldest, my two oldest kids, and I don't know if it was a feeler or what it is, but they would say over and over again,

Terre Short (10:36):

Buy one of those. They would pay a lot of money. Michelle to the Toastmasters jar?

Michelle Henderson  (10:46):

Yes. Oh, they would absolutely every time somebody, because my filler word was at that time, and I know that things change, but that, I mean, they said that three or four times within that minute, and it's just like I wanted to say something, but I didn't want them to feel self-conscious whenever they did during a conversation. But I'm with you that I think we all need to really be aware of the words that we say on a consistent basis.

Terre Short (11:17):

Well, so I think about that as it's a verbal tick, how you can maybe have a tick of something that you're twitches or whatever, and it's a verbal tick. It's just sort of more out of nervousness or insecurity. It's something that just appears and is unnecessary. So my daughter went through a phase much less of that now, but she went through the phase of in every sentence, maybe more than once in the sentence. And so it takes a while, and you're right not to point it out, it just makes it worse. But to point it out when it's not in the conversation at the time to open up a whole new conversation about how we express ourselves and when we use repetitive words that don't add any value to the conversation. So separate from when they're talking to you, I would say entertain a conversation with them about how we express ourselves and how to do it more impactfully without the filler words.

Michelle Henderson  (12:21):

Right? Absolutely. And it takes practice too to be, again, that self-awareness of whatever you're speaking. Sometimes we don't really think about what we're saying and it just automatically comes out muscle memory that it comes out. I do kind of want to change topics to grieving because a lot of my listeners have gone through grieving, and I know we all do, but I talk about it a lot to kind of help them get through it. But if you know somebody who is going through the grieving, I know it is so important to know what to say, and sometimes that's why we don't want to really be around those people that irk grieving because you're afraid to mess anything up. And I've had that fear because I want to help them and not make them feel worse. So what kind of words do you have? What would you recommend? The words that we would say?

Terre Short (13:22):

Well, in the book, Eileen heavily on the feedback from my very dear friend, Lisa Salisa Long, and she's experienced the loss of a child, and she speaks candidly, and I quote her in the book about the things that were helpful that people did and the things that weren't helpful that people did. And I list some of those actual things like the bringing of food and such, so the actions, but then also some of the key words, and I'm going to tell you a couple and then I might go to the book. So the ones that I've absolutely,

Yeah, the ones that I've made my own is are I'm holding you in my heart. That's almost the first thing I ever say to somebody who's grieving. I'm holding you in my heart. I grieve with you as best I can, as close as I can because I haven't lost a child. So you never want to be in a position to say, I know exactly what you're going through. That's so often what people do. Out of that nervousness that you mentioned, you either back away or you come forward and you offer unhelpful things. Unhelpful things, somebody loses their child. And then you talk about when you lost your uncle last year. And again, not helpful, but I want to share with you a couple of the key things. First of all, I like this for anything, when you're leaning in and really wanting to be an expert listener, that you say, tell me more.

Just keep saying it, tell me more, and allow, because that's what's really necessary is for the person to be able to express their grief. I grieve with you as nearly as I can, was the one that I was trying to say, I'm with you at heart. That's my version, is I am holding you deeply in my heart. This is a tender time and I'm holding you close to my heart. So those are some of the key ones that Lisa offered that I get a lot of feedback about those being a different approach to some of the things that might bubble up. We want to say, I know what you're going through and I know how difficult this must be. Well, the person's thinking, no, you don't. No, you don't. So don't say those things. Offer these other sentiments.

Michelle Henderson  (15:37):

Oh, I love it. I totally agree because, and I like to, what you talk about in the book with her is that there's somebody that explains about her son. I know it was a different person, I think because her son died when she was a teenager. I mean, I'm sorry, when he was a teenager. And the girlfriend came back and explained, he has my first kiss. And she said, you know what the mom's saying, if I had received that same conversation when he died, I wouldn't have been able to receive the message. So there's always a time to receive the messages. And I think it's through the healing process that we go through. So good for the girlfriend to understand and know when to actually talk about that in the memories.

Terre Short (16:35):

Right. Well, I just want to attention to what you said at the beginning is that our natural inclination is to draw away because we're fearful of saying the wrong thing. People do that as well with knowing that understanding a person's pronouns or they get all, I'm not sure, I think I'm going to do the wrong thing. Show up authentically, be yourself and ask more questions, is the answer. And listen. And I think

Michelle Henderson  (17:03):

That's showing embracing. You're embracing that person that way. And like you said, if you dunno what to say, be a listener. That's

Terre Short (17:11):


Michelle Henderson  (17:12):

Extend the conversation. Okay. And let me talk about a couple more things and then we'll talk about your current business. So meditation and prayer. And I love how you have a lot more subtitles or sub indexes that you're talking about, and I absolutely love during meditation and praying and having gratitude. Can you summarize what all of that means?

Terre Short (17:44):

Absolutely. So I learned the hard way to be more clear when one is praying or setting an intention perhaps before you start to meditate. So think about it like this. If you were going to Google something, you're going to search for something in one of your on the internet. The more clear you are about what you're looking for, or these days, if you're going to ask AI for some help, one of the AI features, the more clear you are about. So the words that you choose and the clarity that you establish. So in this case, if I'm sending attention in my mind and in my heart, the more guidance you're going to get and the more specifically you're going to move in the direction that you desire. So for a long time, I was super vague about even about goals, about what I wanted at the end of this year or what have you.

And the job is to refine, refine, refine, and get down to exactly what it is that you desire, that you're working towards that is for the greater good, what have you, however you refine that. And then that's what you include when you pray. If you pray, that's what you contemplate as setting an intention before you meditate, so that you are putting out there the exact guidance that you're looking for. I can't stress that enough because otherwise it's just like when you're searching for something on the internet, you're going to get a gazillion possibilities or a gazillion signs and not exactly that which will serve you well.

Michelle Henderson  (19:25):

And I found something about prayer, and I thought I've got to say, because I feel like praying is so powerful, like you said, setting the intention. But I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.

Terre Short (19:46):


Michelle Henderson  (19:47):

And I absolutely love that. And I thought, oh, I got to write it down so I can say it. Yeah, yeah.

Terre Short (19:53):

No, that's so true. It's so true. So that's actually why that's at the end of the book. It's like I start at the beginning of the book with the internal job and thinking about yourself, and then I go family because family and loved ones, we create patterns, we've got some history, some things that are going on in children. And then I go through sort of people in the world at large, and I call it the isms, sexism, racism, ageism, the words related to that, to those types of things. And then at work, and then I wrap it up with in the universe. So I'm not professing any particular religious approach. I'm saying for how you exist in the universe, your words matter. And the very first quote in the book is from Tom Kenyon who says, we are creating the world by how we speak to each other. And so think about that again, you think about your role in the world and then taking that a step further for what you want to manifest for what you want to create, for what you want to contribute to the greater good.

Michelle Henderson  (21:03):

Okay. Well, let's go ahead and talk about your business now. Okay. Thriving leader, collaboration. I'm sorry, collaborative. So tell us what you do in your business.

Terre Short (21:17):

Well, great. I love how you inserted that picture. I was like, oh, that's a different look. Yeah,

Michelle Henderson  (21:23):

That one there.

Terre Short (21:24):

I like it. So we do several things. So I coach, I do one-on-one coaching, and that's sort of part of my time, let's say half of my time. And then I speak speaking gigs and we do an annual retreat. And then I collaborate with my colleagues and they also do the same thing. They coach and they speak and such. And then we pull it all together to serve our mission, Michelle, to create a greater intersection between wellbeing and leadership. So from my perspective, all the decades of experience that I've had, the future hinges on us not working ourselves into the ground, but having a healthy work-life blend, and the harmony that we all seek hinges on leaders first and foremost, understanding that they need to waive wellbeing and leadership together, and they need to normalize that prioritization of wellbeing. So one of my, what are I guess, greatest topics to talk about these days on the stage is that prioritizing wellbeing actually promotes productivity. So we know the neuroscience now indicates this will be the next book. The neuroscience indicates that when we prioritize our own wellbeing, we show up from a better place, we get more done, we're more productive. And so we're on a mission at Thriving Leader collaborative to help people learn how to do that. So we have six pillars of wellbeing and six personas of a thriving leader. And whether we're coaching one-on-one, or doing an online course or a retreat or however we're doing it or speaking, we're constantly creating that greater intersection.

Michelle Henderson  (23:08):

It's so well needed. I know a lot of people probably would still be in the same job if they love the skill and everything, but it's the environment like what you're saying a lot of times. Oh my goodness. Alright, so is there anything that we did not say that you want to make sure that we bring up?

Terre Short (23:28):

Well, I would just say my own personal offering, I guess through the book and such, is that I told you about Tom Kenon, we're creating the world. But I want to take that even further and say, yours is the voice of mankind, right? Each of our voices are voice of mankind. And collectively, we're either going to all elevate each other and the good in the world or not. And that's a daily choice.

Michelle Henderson  (23:59):

Oh my goodness. So true. Oh, see, your words are so wise. I think it's great. It's so inspirational. That's why I love you being on the show. Alright, are you ready for the last question?

Terre Short (24:13):

I am.

Michelle Henderson  (24:14):

Alright, let's bring it on and I am going to spin it and you just never know. And we'll be able to see when it stops, what it actually is. It will be bigger.

Terre Short (24:24):

I love it. I think I feel like I should hum that to.

Michelle Henderson  (24:31):

Alright, now if you want to pass, you can pass, but you can answer it if you want to. But do you believe in aliens? This is such a hot topic right now,

Terre Short (24:43):

So I'll answer it. I don't believe in aliens and they're walking among us type of thing, that kind of aliens. But I believe that there's potentially life in the universe other than ours,

Michelle Henderson  (24:58):

Right? Because it's so big.

Terre Short (25:01):

Yeah. I mean, how could we not think that? I just, yeah,

Michelle Henderson  (25:06):

Absolutely. Absolutely. Now you have already explained a lot of inspirational things. Is there any other thing or statement that you can think of that would be inspirational that would make somebody just go, ah, I never thought of that.

Terre Short (25:23):

I am going to go with listening. I would say I basically think everyone thinks that they're a great listener and I have in my past as well. And I continually work on it. And so my suggestion for anyone out there to decide to be an expert listener is to ask more and tell less, ask more, tell less. And when you're asking, ask questions that start with how or a statement such as tell me. So you're leaning in and you're asking open-ended questions when you start with what and how. And so ask more, tell less, and we'll be in a better world.

Michelle Henderson  (26:04):

So where can everybody reach you? Where's your favorite part?

Terre Short (26:09):

Well, they can reach me on LinkedIn or Instagram and then email me Terry spelled TER Oh, and we have a new app. So I feel like this was hot off the press. So just in the last week or so, you can search in the app store for Thriving Leader collaborative. There's an app for that.

Michelle Henderson  (26:34):

Of course there is. I love technology and I love how it's evolving and it is so nice to have these tools that we didn't use to have. So I can feel your excitement. Okay, everybody, so what I really want to end you with this is that you are powerful, your words are powerful. And to become a successful and a wonderful leader, you need to really be careful of the words that you choose in any situation. But again, you are powerful. So I'll leave you with this. And Terry, thank you so much for being on, and I will see you next week.

Terre Short  (27:15):

Thank you.



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