I remember my parents telling me all throughout growing up “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.” This sounds so simple, but how complicated do we end up making this? We stress and worry over what to say, let our anger get the best of us in the moment, or try to sugarcoat the truth when we just need to be blunt.
Now at 26 years old, I have a new motto that I tell myself. I want to be someone who is known for being genuine and doesn’t say things that they don’t mean. Sometimes, this gets tricky. It can look like someone telling me they miss me, and me making a joke because I don’t miss them. Or what happens when a friend says “I love you!” but you aren’t sure how to respond? I don’t want to go around telling everyone they are awesome, because then you will start to wonder if I really think that about you when I tell you.
This became a simple mindshift, but I believe it has made me a better person. A person who thinks about what they say before they say it, and who doesn’t say something just because everyone else is saying it.
But what are some practical tips for watching what you say and how you say it? I think the steps are simple and can really be boiled down to just one: would you want someone saying these things to you? Yes, there is a thing called tough love, and I am a fan of that when the time/situation calls for it. But there is also just flat out being rude, and that is what we are trying to avoid. Be gracious with your words. Be kind. Don’t use sarcasm as a tool to avoid tough conversations or questions. Humor may not be your friend here. Use wisdom. Pray for the right thing to say. Would you want a friend to speak this way to you? Would you want your parents or a mentor to hear the way you are speaking to and treating someone in this moment?
Words have power. Actions speak louder than words, but when the words are harsh and hurtful, they are very hard to forget. For example, I broke up with someone after almost two years of dating. When we dated again briefly nine months later, do you know what he remembered most? Some of the hurtful words I said when we had broken up. Did I mean them to be hurtful? No. Did I expect him to remember them? No. But here we were.
I know it seems to be popular now to say that we never know what someone else is going through and what battle they are fighting. But that IS true. We do not know what demons, anxieties, struggles, and sins someone else is currently fighting. What if we started to pray for someone instead of going off on them? What if we waited 24 hours before confronting someone—one so we could cool down, but two so we could pray for them, the situation, and guidance on what to say?
Let’s make 2019 the year we truly try to watch what we say. As my parents used to tell me, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.”
Kelsey is one of those people who will tell you that Texas is the best state and Nashville is the best city. She loves traveling, exploring, local coffee shops, and reading. Thankfully she has a job that allows her to do all of these things. She is fluent in sarcasm, wants to be Jess from New Girl, and above all wants to build other women up instead of tearing them down. All of her social media handles are @riotkelsey and she blogs over at riotkelsey.wordpress.com
*Photo by Christy Shaterian