Don’t Retire, ReFire: Words matter

By Gail Supplee Tatum, Columnist, The Times

I am compelled to go deeper into the importance of words, which I touched upon in the previous month.

It’s a subject that has been in the forefront of our current events for quite some time. Interestingly enough, it has been the topic of many conversations I’ve had with my grandchildren, not sparked by the media but, instead, from a page of a book of poignant messages that I read every morning. The coincidence only solidified the point I was making and how I wanted to impress upon them the significance of words.

Words not only matter but they count. The difference between the two is, what you say and how it makes someone feel, matters, and the fact that time is taken to express it to someone, counts. Thoughtful, encouraging, caring words are no good if you keep them to yourself.

Using words is one form of communication, however, there are times when words alone aren’t enough and they need truth and action behind them, in order to drive home their gravity.

A smile speaks volumes and might be the only positive thing in the life of the recipient. Even though, these days, our smile can’t be seen through our masks, a smile can be seen through the eyes. Mother Teresa said it best. We shall never know all the good a simple smile can do.

Random acts of kindness are another form of communication. One of the biggest pioneers of this crusade was Princess Diana. In her words, she instructed us to do the following; Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.

Circling back to words, I’m reminded of several quotes about the tongue. The best one is from James 3:5. This passage holds a universal and non-denominational message. The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts, in other words, it can do enormous damage.

Our words can either comfort or cut to the quick. Once the words are released from the tongue, they are delivered to their intended target, and cannot be recovered. Be conscience that what you’re sending out is positive, empowering and uplifting. If the words sent out for delivery are ill-gotten, they will hit hard and you may never know the effect those words may have on the person or persons they fell on.

If you are someone who is quick with the tongue, and realize it is making you feel bad, as well as those who are hit, there is no time like the present to make positive adjustments.

Here are a few quick tips:

  1. Pause and think before you speak or verbally respond back.
  2. When sending a text or email, write it, reread it and then wait a while. After a few minutes have passed, read it over again from the perspective of the recipient and make adjustments, if necessary.
  3. When responding to a text or email you have received, read and reread, respond accordingly but don’t send until you have reread your response, again, from the perspective of the recipient. This is particularly important if the email or text upsets or angers you.
  4. Communicate in the way in which you would want to be communicated with. Think compassion, empathy, respect, care and thoughtfulness.

It is said that actions speak louder than words, however, when you speak the words, make them count.

In closing, I must share these words that I heard, as, while the words are few, they yield an enormous message that we all should consider and adopt. The right words in the right order can change the world, one word at a time.

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