I grew up in a household where words mattered. There were dire consequences for saying the S word and the F word was 100% unacceptable. Never did I hear my mother, grandmother, father, or grandfather use these words either in conversation or when angry. I remember using one of these words once and my mouth was washed out with a giant bar of soap. That taught me. But it wasn’t so much the nasty taste of soap between my teeth as it was the example I lived with day in and day out from the Older and Wiser’s who surrounded and shaped my upbringing. They thought about what they said before speaking and there was a great respect for how their message was delivered and received. This respect was for the recipient. There was a dignity and grace to conversation that I remember.
I now am that Older and Wiser one. I live by the same tenants my elders did. I have seen people use words to elevate and raise others up and I have also experienced the devastation that words can have.
It is said that we are only affected by things we let affect us. This is true but it is also true that we have control of our actions and our deeds. And one of our responsibility deeds is how we interact and respect those who we communicate with. We have the power to elevate or deflate. I choose elevate. This is why even though there is no consequence of a bar of soap in my mouth I choose not to use words others might find offensive. I choose to respect those I am around and to lead by example.
Today, more then ever, our words matter both spoken and written. With so many mediums and lines of communication, we need to take our time, step back, and think before we speak or write.
Want to be profound with your word – this is what I try to practice in every conversation.
1. Listen more then talk. And when you do talk have something to say that is worth hearing.
2. It is not your job to try to one up the other person. If someone is confiding in you about a tough situation don’t respond with “Well that’s nothing, you should see what I am/have gone through. Instead just say “I am sorry. What can I do?”
3. Use intelligent words. The F and S words are not intelligent words
4. Your mother told you and now I am too. If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything unless it is solicited and you can provide constructive feedback that helps the recipient.
5. Before speaking think about if what you about to say is going to add value.
6. Are you representing yourself with dignity and grace with your choice of words?
There is a responsibility that us Older and Wiser’s carry. It is to carry on the eloquence of the spoken word and to lead by example.