Are our words helpful or harmful? Once spoken, we cannot take them back. While it is too late to take back words we have already spoken, we need to understand their impact. Once understood, we can improve our communication and have better relationships.
We can all remember hurtful words spoken to us, long after they were said. We can also remember caring words spoken to us, but the caring words do not negate the pain of the hurtful words. In fact, it is human nature for the negative to have more impact on us than the positive.
While sometimes it is the words used that are hurtful, at other times it is the tone of voice. There are also times that the words are harsh, and the tone of voice is as well. The combination of harsh words and a negative tone of voice can create a dynamic that permanently damages a relationship. And we may not even know it, until it is too late.
Most likely many of us have said a harsh word, even in a negative tone of voice, perhaps more than once. But how often? The frequency with which our words build others up or tear them down is the question. And do not think that our intent in saying what we say excuses us. The point is the impact our words have on others. Is the impact of our words positive or negative?
I read a comment in a Facebook memory of a priest who perished on 9/11. The following words were used to describe him. Grace, Humor, Kindness, Forgiveness, Joy. This person’s memory, reflected in the words used to describe her friend twenty years after his death, painted a picture of someone who built others up. What a powerful and positive legacy.
What words would others use to describe you and me? This is a question worthy of pondering. If we do not like the answer, we can change. Before our legacy is permanent.