Words matter whether you are six or sixty. They convey your thoughts and feelings. They can warm the heart or turn the blood ice cold. The words we speak and the tone we use when speaking them can make all the difference in meaningful communication.
When my boys were young, I took pride in their vocabulary. Every opportunity I had to teach them a new word and its meaning I jumped on it.
Before they were school age, I bought them each a Word A Day Calendars every Christmas. You know, the kind that has a word, its meaning, and the pronunciation. They enjoyed getting up each morning and ripping the day off the calendar. We made a game of it. But I didn’t just teach them the word; I made them use it in a sentence. This way they learned the context in which to use it. I prided myself with their vocabulary; people would often remark how “bright” they were.
That worked rather well when they were young, but not so much when they reached school age. Then it was no longer a game; it represented homework to them.
Today, both my boys are well-spoken individuals. Now, I stand amazed at the vocabulary of my grandchildren. Words do matter. Equally important is how you use those words when you communicate with others.
The other day I received a text, yes, my nemesis the text. It was from my daughter-in-law. I read it and understood perfectly well what message she was conveying. A few seconds later I received a second text with an apology. She was clarifying what she meant. You see, after she read it, she was afraid her “tone” was offensive. You can’t hear a tone in a text. Therefore, they are often come across as sarcastic, rude or offensive.
Words can cut you to the core, or they can warm your heart. The tone we use in conversation is important. We can immediately put someone on the defensive if our tone is abrupt, harsh, or impatient.
My husband is one of the most patient men I know. His interaction with his 86-year-old mother is touching. She still uses a cell phone, a Kindle, and computer; she even has a Facebook page. But, she frequently needs help with her devices. She lives four hours away, so when she deletes something by accident or can’t remember how to post, she calls. As I listen to him on the phone, I am in total awe of his patience. His tone is sweet, sincere, and soft as he deals with her issues. One evening he patiently sat for 45 minutes until she could find her book on Kindle.
Some, on the other hand, have a tendency to be impatient and abrupt when they speak. Not that the person intends to be rude, but that’s how it comes across to others. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and they do the “un huh” thing? It’s like they can’t wait for you to stop talking. To me, that indicates they are in a hurry, but in reality, for most, it’s just a bad habit.
That’s why it’s crucial to watch the tone of your words. If you are not careful, they can seem harsh and hurtful.
Remember that little saying in elementary school? “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Oh, yes they can! No kid believed that then, and they don’t believe it when they grow up. That is an absolutely FALSE statement. Words do hurt! So be careful with your words, and your tone.
Once spoken…words cannot be taken back.