Choose Your Words Wisely

Once those syllables come out of your mouth, they can’t be retracted.  Oh sure you can apologize, but what you said can never be unheard. Your only hope is that the person hearing it forgives you and you can move on.

When a child is born the parents wait patiently for the first word…will it be mama or dada? The excitement is so contagious everyone seems to hang on the slightest sound the baby makes. When the first word is finally uttered, even as intelligible as it is, there is delight. This is the beginning of lifetime word choices. Our beginning vocabulary is mostly words heard from our parents, family, friends, teachers and other people around us. This little mouth will learn to voice some of the sweetest things you will ever hear and potentially some of the worst. It will tell the truth, and it will lie. What we hope is that as this little person matures he/she will learn how and when to choose their words wisely, learn how to interact with people, be able to explain his/her position and let the other person explain theirs. I wish I could say this was going to be easy. If that were the case there would be no miscommunication, hurt feelings or apologies needed.

For me, being open and honest usually serves me well.  If you want to know the truth just ask. I consider this a good quality. Over the years, I realized this trait needed some fine tuning. Words can be tender, caring, loving, curious, inquisitive, powerful, intense and sharp. We were given the ability to communicate, cry, command, laugh, give love and take it away, all with our words. The words we choose can cut deep and hurt far more than any physical wound. The physical wound heals, the mental wound caused by the tongue may never recover. For those reasons sharing my honest opinion wasn’t always the best way to go. If my answer was going to hurt someone, I needed to evaluate the repercussion before opening my mouth. What good is telling someone something only to hurt them? I needed to learn how to get my point across in a way that was kind and respectful. I have to admit this was easier said than done. I still struggle with this as old as I am.

Passion is a good word to explain why it’s hard to choose our words wisely. Voicing your opinion when you feel strongly or passionate about something gets the adrenaline going, your blood pressure rises, and your words flow out of your mouth faster than your brain can control.  As a woman, one of the strongest things we have is our voice. We are told to stand up and be heard. The key, however, is to walk through life choosing the right words, while remaining calm and knowing how and when to use them. This knowledge usually comes with maturity and being able to admit your mistakes along the way.

As each decade past, I was able to look back and evaluate how my use of words had changed. Every time I looked back, I could see the increased maturity in my choice of words, but I could also see areas I still needed to work on. My judgment on when to speak, the tone of my voice and the sound was getting better. I am quite sure the staff I manage today vs. the team of 30 years ago would agree I have changed and for that I am glad. I want to be a person that continues to grow and expand in every way. Alas, I am in my fifties and still have not mastered choosing all of my words wisely. It can be tricky to know if you should be sincere or tell that little white lie, so you don’t hurt someone’s feelings. Is it the quiet tone of your voice that gets heard over the loud booming one. We all express ourselves in different ways, and we learn how to speak to one another from our surroundings. I have realized I don’t always have to be right (just sometimes–I am still the mom). I do however crave to see with my ears and take people places with my words. I will continue to strive every day to be a better communicator, take responsibility for what I have said and how I said it.


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