Do your words matter? Do you want them to? Have you stopped to consider when to speak and when to be silent? Whether your words matter will depend on those listening and many other things. Let's consider the effect of our words.
The Spoken Word
Your word comes out of your mouth and into the world, exposing your heart and your mind. Your words can offer healing or hurt, well needed advice or directions that will lead to destruction. How do you know the right words to use? How do you use enough words to explain yourself and not too many to confuse? Where is that balance? How do you know?
Whether or not your word matters depends on who you are speaking to and how you listen to their heart. Communication is a game of tennis and it must be played with another. Are they hearing you? Have you touched their heart or sparked their mind? Is the conversation fun for both of you or is is riddled with gossip about another? What do your words say about you?
What Happens to Spoken Words?
The spoken word offered can be received, rejected, heard or ignored. It may bounce off the Other like a raquetball, settle like a perfectly placed chess piece, puncture like a sharp object, land like a brick, it may be soothing like lotion, healing to the soul or flutter to the floor, unheard.
· Words can be ignored.
· Words can hurt.
· Words can teach.
· Words can heal.
· Words can save.
· Words can make us laugh . . . or cry.
· Words can inspire.
· Words can be remembered.
We retain very little of what we hear. So why do we say so much?
When you tell a story to 10 people, even if they are in the same room, you are telling 10 different stories. This is because the story goes through 10 different sets of filters.
Filters are life experiences and expectations that sit between us. You hear what I say based on who you think I am. You hear what I say based on what has happened to you in the past. You hear what I say based on how you read my facial expressions. You hear what I say based on how your dinner is settling in your stomach and whether there are distractions in the room. You hear what I say based on what I am wearing and how I smell. You hear what I say based on how you interpret the tone of my voice. You hear what I say based on what others have said about me. You hear what I say based on the color of my skin, my gender, my age, and my teeth. All of these things sit between us. How can we possibly understand one another? It is hard work.
It is a tricky and difficult business.
Ready, Willing, and Able
In order for my words to matter, the Other must be ready, willing, and able to hear them. I may speak the truth, but unless the Other is ready, willing, and able, my words fall on the ground between us. They may as well have not have been spoken.
Recently I had a conversation with someone whose words were upsetting and confusing to me. I was willing to hear what she said but not ready because they were so disruptive to my heart. I was unable to hear what she said but fully felt the brunt of a difficult message. It left me wounded and bruised. Oh how I wish we could have slowed down. The words only served to damage our relationship. It wasn’t time for those words to be spoken. I wasn’t able to hear.
I have done this to others too. My words come from the depths of my soul and out of my mouth without consideration of the heart of the Other. What causes me to do that? Arrogance? Insensativity? Selfishness? I pledge to be more careful in my consideration of whether the Other is ready, willing, and able to hear.
I didn’t understand when our boys were young, that they were not ready, willing or able to hear some of my words. How I regret not knowing (or believing) this. I would have changed my approach. I would have been kinder and gentler. I would have hugged them more and used fewer words.
Be careful with your words, especially with your children. They do not have the same understanding you do. Do not run ahead of their maturity but let them be young. Allow them to be ‘normal’ and ‘average’. Allow them to be unique and separate from you and have their own hopes and dreams. Slow it down. Be careful with your words.
Who are My Words For?
More often than I care to admit, my words are spoken for me. I need to relieve myself of a thought so I throw my words out into the universe. So. Many. Words. Some of them are reactionary - a quick response to an event or comment. If I took just 5 seconds to let their comment sink in and consider my response, I could create a different reality. What would I hear if I just stopped to listen instead of blurting out the most recent thought that hit my conscious mind? I regret when I am more concerned about speaking my mind than listening to theirs.
Who are my words for?
Where Do My Words Come From?
Where do my words come from?
· My head?
· My heart?
· My emotions?
· My weakness?
· My strength?
· My mother?
· My friends?
· My prejudices?
I want my words to come from a secure place within myself, full of love and compassion, wrapped in the wisdom I have gained, sensitive to the Other, and full of healing.
When To Speak
If I wrote everything down today and decided tomorrow how to respond, how many of my words would remain? Would people be patient with me as I took time to consider the appropriate and loving response? Do I have the discipline to hold my tongue?
Be slow to speak and quick to listen. What makes me speak so quickly? Is it fear or anxiety? Is it my need for attention? Is it my desire to dismiss anything that may cause my mind or heart to fully engage, think or feel?
The question of when to speak takes discipline. It must have to do more with the Other than yourself if you are to show pure love. Do you consider when to speak?
My Favorite Topic - Questions
The words of a question provoke the heart and mind. They tend to stay with us until we have a response. They can lead us to ponder or agitate us until we can come up with a satisfactory answer, even if just for ourselves. Was there an intent or motive behind the question? Maybe there was. Maybe there wasn’t. It does not matter. The question now sits with you.
The Written Word
The written word is different than the spoken word. It lies on the page, being offered to the reader. It can be looked at over and over. You can go back and the words will still be there, the same as before, as if to eliminate any misunderstanding. They are black and white. There is no inflection of facial expression to go along with them. They can be more clear than the spoken word because there is no filter between them and the reader.
The written word is easier to take. There is no response required. We can sit and look at the words and form our opinion in our own perfect timing. No one needs to know. It is easier to be honest with the written word. It is less complicated. It is just you and the words.
Do Your Words Matter?
Here are some thoughts to ponder about your words.
· Are your words true?
· Are your words for them or for you?
· Have you said it before with no impact and are now you’re saying it a different way? Why will they hear it this time?
· Are they ready, willing, and able to hear your words? Have you asked?
· What do you hope to accomplish with your words?
· Have you considered the consequences of your words?
· Have you considered the filters between you?
· Will you be glad you used those words 5 minutes from now, 5 days from now, and 5 years from now?