So often we recognize when someone says the wrong thing. It sticks out like a sore thumb to us. We remember it. We might play it over and over in our heads when we see or think of the person. Whether in conversation or on social media, we might wonder, “Why did he/she say that?” The funny thing is, of course, that the person who may have said it might be unaware that they’ve said something out of place. Like I’ve said before, it’s pretty easy to judge others by their actions and to judge ourselves by our intentions.
Wait a minute though. Does that mean that it’s possible for me to also say the wrong thing without intending to? To keep it short and sweet, why yes! The good thing is that we have so many checks and balances to keep us on the right track. Through a real relationship with Him, reading His Word, and His Holy Spirit, we will equip ourselves with the wisdom needed to say the right words at the right time. And, when the wrong words are said to us or about us, we can respond in a Christ-like manner.
I’ve been reading a little pink book entitled, Keep It Shut, by Karen Ehman. It’s about what to say, how to say it and when to be silent. It has really helped me to recognize things that other people say, and most importantly, things that I say that just aren’t right. Ehman emphasizes that often it’s best to just “keep it [mouth] shut.”
I’ve begun to notice that if I start too many sentences with “I” (“My”) or “You” in a conversation, I’m usually going in the wrong direction. If someone says something or even posts something on social media, we need to pay attention to how we respond. Responses that are what I’ll call “I-centered” or self-centered cloaked in the disguise of I’m-trying-to-let-you-know-that-I-can-relate can often put a person at a distance. For example, if someone tells you that their daughter got all A’s and you feel the need to tell them how your child has done or what they have accomplished without really hearing them, it will tend to put the other person at a distance. Anything that even remotely appears like one-upping another person in relationships isn’t often received as coming from a loving and giving posture—even if our intentions are otherwise.
Words can hurt, irritate, aggravate, anger, enrage, and even depress, but they can also instruct, motivate, encourage, warm, strengthen, empower, and enlighten. The words that we speak (and post) are powerful. More often than not, the words we use are good or bad, hurtful or helpful, self-defeating or self-empowering. We have to take time to think about what we’re conversing about.
Even with all of the technology and numerous ways for people to connect, so many people aren’t being listened to. I’ve decided to challenge myself to speak less and to listen more. If we approach relationships from that vantage point, things are so much easier and a much more loving environment is created.
Nothing is more exhausting that hearing someone go on and on about themselves. People like this often repeat themselves with the same tired stories, but they don’t realize that the person has already heard it! I’ve come to recognize that sometimes it’s because these people haven’t really fever felt heard. Regardless of what they’re conversation is, we should be ready to answer every person in the right way. When we are seeking Him, He will give us the right way to respond or not to respond—regardless of what their conversation is.