Always speak kindly.
As a small child, I hid when my parents fought. And they fought often. Hiding in a small cove in the back of my closet with a flashlight and a child’s tape recorder and a few books on tape, I taught myself to read by age 3 and a half. I did not tell anyone I could read. Maybe I was unaware I could actually read words other than the ones in the books on tape books.
One day before I was four years old, I was at my grandma’s house and read out loud a plaque that was above her phone on her wall. It said, “Remember all the words you say, keep them soft and sweet…You never know from day to day which ones you’ll have to eat”. I read this short but powerful poem and asked her how to eat words.
She laughed at first and then picked up my tiny body and hugged me and asked me how I had learned to read. I told her. She looked sad at first when I told her but then she explained about eating words. I have never forgotten that poem or the kind way she explained its meaning to me. And I have always tried to live by them.
The fact is that people cannot eat words. Once you communicate something, you cannot take it back. It is very important to only communicate kindly. Others never forget what you have communicated that was unkind. Others might forgive you but cannot forget unkind communications.
Although I was diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury in my early 30’s, I have never been able to forget the unkind words my mother said to me. I want to forget them. I know I would feel much better if I could forget them. But I cannot get them out of my head no matter how hard I try. I have forgiven her but I cannot forget. And the memories of her words always bring me tremendous pain.
I am writing this article to remind everyone to always think before they communicate anything at all. With my Traumatic Brain Injury, it would be easy for me to snap and communicate something unkind. So when I need to communicate with someone to whom I might be tempted to say something unkind, I insist on written communication. When I was three years old and read that plaque on my beloved grandma’s wall, there was no internet and computers were not readily available. But now they are. So we need to use them. We need to take advantage of the ease of written communication today. And when we think we feel frustrated about a particular situation and may communicate anything unkind, it is important to write what we want to communicate and then read it. Then we need to edit it before we communicate it.
I read everything out loud to my husband or my best friend Wendy because hearing what I want to communicate helps me to process its tone much better. And their opinions about what I am trying to communicate help me to realize how it sounds to someone else. I especially like to get their opinions about business communications. It is very important to be kind in business as well as personal communications.
So anyone can always communicate kindly and lovingly. If the situation is one that is not frustrating, go ahead and speak what you think. Just remember to think before you speak each sentence. But if the situation is a frustrating situation, it is very important to insist on written communication. First write, then get someone else’s opinion, and then edit until you and your proof reader agree that your message sounds as kind as possible. Then send the message.
You can always speak kindly, if you always follow these basic guidelines.