At its very core Martial arts is about respect. Respect for your elders and senior ranks. Respect for fellow competitors who may or may not be better than you. Respect for yourself. And respect for the people closest to us in our daily lives. And one of the best ways we can demonstrate our respect is with our words.
In the age of online trolling, and the fact that extremist content gets the most amplification, it can be hard to remember that how we speak to one another carries a lot of weight. In my house we start with a single simple phrase, yes ma'am or sir. Now I know what you're thinking, gosh that just makes me feel old, or why does respect have to sound so militaristic. Well really we have just forgotten how to hear what respect sounds like.
I personally feel that we need to remember how to receive respect the same way we have to learn to receive compliments or criticism. And the best way to start is by changing how we speak to others. Yes ma'am and yes sir are shorthand for "I heard you" or " you can count on me" or my favorite "it's being done". And once employed properly to simple words will change how people treat and interact with us.
You see respect is one of those things that is so valuable you have to give it away. And it starts with how you speak to others. Just like with any habit or action worth doing it will take some, work and time to incorporate into our lives. People will even tell you "oh don't call me ma'am, it makes me feel old". And this is where the work comes in. When people try to let you off the hook for demonstrating respect you will have to remind them how to hear you.
All that to say the old cliche of actions speaking louder than words is only half right, your words matter and they speak volumes.