Lesson 50: Find the right words

Think before you speak.  Don’t say the first things that come to mind.  Words are a tool and like most tools, they need to be treated with respect and care.  What you say and the way you say it, mean everything.  The words you use and the tone you take tell people more about you than just the specific words you use.  Just because you have a fancy education or a college degree doesn’t mean you are smart.  Some of the dumbest or most closed minded people I have ever encountered have a higher level of education than I do.  Your words and your actions tell everyone what they need to know about you and it might not always be the message you intended.  Take the time to consider them.  

This brings me back to the first sentence of this chapter.  Didn’t your mother, father, or anyone for that matter, ever tell you “think before you speak,” or is that just me?  I have heard that phrase so many times and from so many different people that it is difficult to not give it it’s due consideration.  That being said, I am guilty of putting my foot in my mouth far more times than I care to admit.  Being quick to respond doesn’t make you smart or intelligent.  The right words do, regardless of how long it takes you to say them.  Anyone who believes there is a time limit for response, is missing the point.  

It is hard to be patient, especially if emotions and tempers are flaring.  I understand that nobody wants to wait forever to respond, but it is important to understand that if someone is taking their time, it is important to them and they want to make sure their answer reflects how they really feel.  How many times have you said something to someone that made perfect sense to you, but was completely misunderstood by the receiver of the message?  Did you stop to consider what you said or why they might have interpreted it the way they did or did you just get mad at them for not understanding?  Take your time.  Think it through.

This is one of the many difficulties we are having with communication in general nowadays.  People want to be heard and oftentimes it is believed that if you take too long that your response will somehow not have as much value.  The problem is when you rush, you are not giving yourself the proper time to consider the possible variations in the interpretation on your message.  There are so many mixed meanings and there are so many different words or phrases that have more than one interpretation.  It is important to empathize.  No one has the same experiences as you.  Because of these different experiences, different understandings become possible.  How you see the interpretation of your words is not universal.  

Don’t just ask if they understand.  Ask them, politely and with tact, to summarize what you said.  Make sure you explain that it is not an insult to their intelligence but an effort to ensure that you are both on the same page.  Maybe there is a better way to explain it and maybe there isn’t, but it is important to make the effort to understand.  Using the right words is not about being the smartest or most intelligent person talking.  If you are unsure that your message was received as intended, or question the words you used, take the time to have a meaningful discussion.  Who knows?  Maybe their misunderstanding of the issue might lead you to eventually reaching a better understanding yourself.

Timing is also critical.  The right words spoken at the right time to the right person make for a harmonious moment.  Knowing when to tell someone you love them is as important as the words you are speaking.  Timing matters.  It is no easy feat to know when the right time is.  Spoken at the wrong or inappropriate time, your words can spell disaster.  One of the most important parts about finding the right words is knowing when to use them.  Sometimes, the right thing to say is nothing at all.  Being silent is not necessarily the same thing as not communicating.  It is important to understand who you are dealing with so you can make the best decisions possible.

Takeaways:

  1. Think before you speak.
  2. You cannot unsay what has already been spoken.
  3. Make the effort to understand who you are talking to.
  4. Knowing when to use the right words matters.
  5. Being silent is not the same as not communicating.

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