Do you often find yourself saying the wrong thing? Or saying what might be a right thing, but saying it at the wrong time, or with the wrong tone of voice, or in a way that ends up being totally misconstrued? Do you find yourself thinking “I didn’t mean it like that!” Or “Why didn’t I say something!”
Words are a very powerful tool. Words are a great equalizer; this potent gadget of the mind is luckily available to virtually every human being with a functioning brain. So it should come as no surprise that our lives largely revolve around how to wield our words most effectively.
Here are three things to do next time you want to communicate something important so that it does not come out wrong;
- Listen before you speak. Listen to and seek to understand the person on the receiving end of your words: their situation, their wants, their thoughts, and their emotions. Listening to others is a vital component of empathy. Ask yourself, “Am I just waiting to talk, or am I truly listening?” Don’t judge; just listen. People don’t care that you know until they know that you care.
- Be humble. Words are a channel for communicating a truth much bigger than yourself. Don’t let your words become hijacked for your personal gain. Keep them as transparent and ego-free as possible. Simply and clearly state the truth with kindness.
- Be compassionate. Follow the Golden Rule, “Don’t do unto others what you would not want done unto you. If we practice silence, humility, and compassion, our words will surely be potent for good. Remember, though, that you can’t control the reactions of others. It’s possible to say the right thing, but still elicit an angry reaction. But your responsibility is to assure that you have done everything in your power to express yourself clearly and compassionately.