Proverbs 12:18 says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
We learned it when we were young: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This is SO not true! I can still vividly remember some unkind words said to me by a teacher in fourth grade, and some negative words a couple of high school boys said about my legs. Those harsh words did hurt, and …I still remember them.
The words we say to other people matter a lot. Even words spoken with the best of intentions can sometimes convey a message that is far more critical and negative than we intend. Words are so powerful, and yet communication is so difficult. It is super easy to become critical in what we say to, and about others. We must make a conscious choice to offset constant criticism with constant praise and encouragement.
Remember, it’s not just the words you say but the way they are being heard and received that matters.
Control your tongue.
Negativity and criticism are contagious. Sometimes we do have to give constructive criticism. Choose to Give twice as much encouragement as criticism.
Be slow to anger.
Often in the frustration of the moment we use words that are far harsher than we intend. Those words will linger long after what irritated you is forgotten. Learn to take a walk, count to ten, and take a deep breath before you say anything. Most words said in anger are not good words
You may have heard about the meltdown at the Japanese nuclear plant earlier this year. The power failure from the tsunami caused the cooling system to shut down, and that caused the fuel rods to overheat and release radiation. It may be years before all of the damage that has been done can be repaired, and some lives will never be the same. This is a powerful illustration of what a tsunami of criticism can do in the life of a vulnerable person.
Choose good words. Choose to affirm. Choose to take time to react. Choose ahead of time to control your tongue.