Monday, March 3, 2014

Words are Powerful

Ok, so I was working on a blog for the past few days and didn't like it. It is on a sensitive topic and I can't seem to get my words down in such a way that it is not confrontational. I've read and re-read it several times and keep seeing the words as somewhat arrogant and somewhat accusatory. That is not at all my intentions so I decided to just write something else. So, if you are a fan of my blog and like to read it on Thursdays, I'm sorry this one is late.

Due to the difficulty of getting that blog right, I am going to write on words. Words are powerful. They can utterly destroy people and they can also make people feel great. Words can spark events that literally destroy nations and they can cause people to achieve much higher than they "should be" able to achieve. Words are powerful. A well chosen, timely, sincere encouraging word will totally change someone's day for the better. An ill-conceived, poorly timed cross word will plunge someone into a truly bad day.

Most of you know that I am constantly preaching to "live on purpose" and not drift accidentally. Too many people just do what they do with no real reasoning other than it is just what they do. They don't take a minute to figure out how to do things purposefully. They never consider that even the small, insignificant things actually matter to at least someone. This is magnified when we talk about how much we talk. There are lots of internet sources out there that report that men speak roughly 7,000 words per day and women speak anywhere from 18,000-24,000. I have no idea if that is accurate but lets say, for the sake of this discussion that it is half right--men speak 3,500 and women speak 9,000. That is a LOT of opportunity to either brighten someone's day, not change their disposition at all or ruin someone's day. It seems to me that one of the biggest weapons we own that can cause harm is our own mouths!

Alright, so you've decided to control your mouth and try to be a force for encouragement and good with your words. How do you do it? If you speak 3,500 words in a day's time, how do you make sure you don't speak someone into a bad mood? Its a lot of responsibility, especially when you consider that it is not just the words themselves that have impact but also the body language, tone, inflection and facial expressions you use when delivering those words. It is also the timing within the conversation and the timing in the day. It is also the medium you use to deliver the words. Phone calls can yield much different results than face to face.

So what do you do? My suggestion is simple but yet so incredibly hard. Here it is:  SLOW DOWN. That's it. SLOW DOWN. Pause, think, breathe, control yourself, think about the possible reaction. Most importantly, listen to what they are saying and ask questions if need be. You can do all of this if you slow down. It's hard to do when your day is constantly overbooked and you have no time to unwind. Its hard to do when the kids are yelling and the spouse wants something and the boss wants something and the traffic is jammed and Wendy's messed up your order and on and on and on. I know it is hard. I am not very good at it. It takes discipline and it takes accountability. It takes (for me) a spouse that tells me when my tone or inflection is not welcoming. It takes a conscious effort to unplug for a few minutes every few hours and just enjoy silence to let my brain rest. For me, it takes a silent, meditative prayer at least once a day where I don't really say anything but just focus on God. Even with all that effort, I can still say stupid stuff or use a more aggressive tone than I intend. I can still hurt people's feelings with my words. I try not to but it still happens. When it does, I apologize sincerely, hope they forgive me and move on.

What about you? What techniques do you employ to control your tongue and to try to brighten people's day with your words?

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