IL Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Meditation by Lindsey Holland (Taken from Liguorian Magazine: January 2017)

A Meditation:  How Do You Say It? by Lindsey Holland

 Throughout my life, I've been one who has a hard time with words. Probably not in the way you think, though.  It's not that I have nothing to say.  Rather, I tend to say too much.  I say whatever I think.  Kind or not.  Hurtful or not.  Helpful or not.

 My theory was that there wasn't a need to mince words.  I couldn't understand why people wouldn't just "tell it like it is."  When I had a thought, I would just blurt it out.  Just like that.  In all its cutting down, tearing apart, and hurtful glory.  Nothing to soften the blow.  Void of context, to show that I was saying it out of love or concern.  Nothing to show my own humility in the matter.

Sure, maybe sometimes there were things that needed to be discussed and truths that needed to be spoken, but my problem was that I didn't say those things in a kind, positive, or uplifting way.  I didn't say them in a way that helped.  I said them in a way that hurt.

While often there may be a lot of truth in what we have to say, it has taken me a while to learn - and I continue to learn - that we can't simply speak without thinking.

It first hit me when I realized that I didn't appreciate when people told me things straight up.  I had encountered people who would say things in a very blunt and straightforward manner.  And, I'd also met people who would state their opinion in a kind and positive way.  I realized that the ones who spoke to me bluntly left me feeling defeated, while the ones who said the same thing in a kind and thoughtful way left me feeling energized and inspired me to want to be a better person!

Understandably, I found it a lot more enjoyable to spend time with people who couched one or two negative comments and exchanged criticisms for more positive remarks than those who would only reference the negative about me.

The Bible talks a lot about the power of our words:  Proverbs 12:18 says, "The babble of some people is like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise is healing."  We must understand that!  Blunt words can feel like swords straight to the heart!  In contrast, Proverbs 16:24 states, "Pleasing words are a honeycomb, sweet to the taste and invigorating to the bones."  That couldn't be more true!

The best way to share your opinion or to give constructive criticism is to use the sandwich method:  First say positive things about the person, saying what your appreciate about her or him and what you like.  Next, as the "sandwich filling," state kindly something you would appreciate being done differently.  The last part of the "sandwich" should once again be kind and positive sentiments -- things you appreciate and like about the person.

For example, wife to husband:  I appreciate everything you do for us!  You're always helpful around the house, and the kids adore you.  I was thinking maybe we could take turns getting up with the baby in the middle of the night.  It would help me feel more rested and allow you to bond with her.  I think you are an amazing husband! Thank you for your love and support.  Compare that with:  Why don't you ever help with the baby?  Can't you see I'm exhausted?  She's your kid, too!

The first statement makes it difficult for Mr. Husband to feel hurt and dejected.  Rather, he's able to see (and, more importantly, hear) that his wife genuinely appreciates and cares and that there are more things she likes than dislikes about him.  The second statement -- without the pleasant part of the "sandwich" -- leaves the husband feeling attacked and hurt, and it creates distance between the couple.

Generally, people will do more than asked when they feel appreciated.  But when only the negative is emphasized, we think, Why even try? Sometimes we may feel justified by what we want to say -- and we may be -- but that doesn't mean we should launch "nuclear wordfare" against another person.

Perhaps the wisest of us all, King Solomon, had a lot to say about the tongue, and we would be smart to heed this triple play of wisdom:  "A mild answer turns back wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1)  "Those who guard mouth and tongue guard themselves from trouble" (Proverbs 21:23).  "Those who guard their mouths preserve themselves: those who open wide their lips bring ruin" (Proverbs 13:3).

You can still say what you need to say and get your point across.  The key is in how you say it.  So I'll leave you with this favorite quote of mine:  We are either building up or tearing down in everything we do.  Are you on the construction gang or the wrecking crew?


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