Has someone ever said something to you that made you feel not good enough, unimportant, or just plain insulted?
Then you know the power of words. And you know they can hurt you (no matter what that old children's rhyme says).
Your words can be used as a weapon to manipulate, demean, or offend. They can also be used for good to inspire, compliment, and show love.
Each time you take a breath to speak, think of the effect your words will have once they reach another's ears. Will your words hurt someone, or contribute to the conversation?
Sometimes a reaction, rather than a response, to a person or situation causes an explosion of dialogue that we immediately regret.
Before you react, inhale, then exhale slowly. Take those couple of seconds to formulate a more appropriate response.
There are also times during conversation when we get caught up in the moment. Gossip has a way of sucking you in and, before you know it, you've said something you would never want repeated.
It happens to all of us at some point, but do your best to recognize when it is happening and remain silent or leave the situation if you can. You might also try changing the subject of conversation and redirect it to something more pleasant.
Remember the adage "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all?" When practiced, this advice prevents many regrets.
There are times when silence is your best option. As mentioned above, when you are about to react negatively or when you get caught up in gossip, it is best to keep quiet. It is also in your best interest to keep your word when you agreed to a "Please don't tell anyone" request.
Remaining silent actually gives you the upper hand. You earn the respect of other people for speaking when you actually have something meaningful to say. You are a trusted confidante. And you know how to keep your cool.
There are times when it's not so much the words you say, but how you say them that can hurt. Sarcasm has its place in certain monologues and conversations, but should only be used when all participants are willing to accept it for what it is.
When sarcasm is used to demean or devalue someone, you're entering unfriendly territory.
So, you can do a quick check to make sure your words, and their delivery, are used with good intentions.
It may seem with all these check-ins that you will never be able to say your piece when in a real-world conversation. No worries, you will.
Practice being completely present in your conversations. Make eye contact with the person you're speaking to, quickly scan her body language to check how openly she is communicating with you, and pay attention to facial expressions.
If you see arms crossed, a frown, or backing away, it's time to change the subject or end the conversation. Unless it is a situation where you are both committed to working through it and reaching a satisfactory conclusion.
You'll soon recognize the signs that tell you how a conversation is going and respond accordingly.
Avoid letting your words hurt anyone. But the most important thing is, speak kind words in a kind way. Always.