Proverbs: Mouthing Off
While reading the book of Proverbs, I came across a verse that rings true for me in my business and life. “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Now let me preface this by saying, I’m not always good at this, and to be honest, I’m usually better at it with my clients than I am in my personal life, but it’s something I’m conscious of regularly.
I believe that what you say, and more importantly, what you don’t say, speaks volumes about who you are. Here are some tips on how to be more Godly in your communication. As with all proverb-like text, you’ve probably heard this advice before. Your Mom or Dad may have given it to you on more than one occasion… I know mine did!
1. Hold Your Tongue: Proverbs tells us, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” How often have you said something that you immediately regretted? In tense situations, the first words that slip the tongue are sarcastic or cutting and make a bad situation worse.
2. Think Before You Speak: When we think of the wisest people in history we think of Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, our pastors, or other famous spiritual, thought leaders. Why? It’s because their words are measured, thought-out, and well said. However, in daily situations, we don’t have the luxury to give measured, thought-out speeches. Instead, we say the first thing that comes to mind, and sometimes that is not always the best. One of the safest ways to think before we speak is to ask, “Is what I’m about to say out of respect or is it meant to hurt?”
3. Listen: Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame.” Being in the “Advice” or “Consulting” business, it’s easy to start monologuing. However, what I’ve found over the years is that being wise doesn’t mean talking more or giving advice. Sometimes it just means being quiet and listening. I heard it put this way once, “God has given us two ears and one mouth for reason.” I learn scores of information from my clients by simply asking questions, actively listening, and taking notes. However, if you haven’t done it before, listening for an hour to one person is actually hard—not because they’re boring, but because it’s so easy to be distracted. That’s why so many great authors like Dale Carnegie, devote whole books to the topic of influencing others through listening. Remember, nothing you do will make another person feel important as listening.
4. Encourage and Be Gentle with Your Words: Proverbs 16:23-24 says, “From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive. Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Have you ever noticed that when you’re kind, often you benefit more than the person that you’re kind to? We often get more out of being good and generous to others and, in turn, they can readily turn around and do the same for others and benefit from their own positiveness. It truly has a far-reaching ripple effect. When we go out of our way to praise, encourage, and love others, it’s hard not to feel good about ourselves and life.
Above all, remember that as Christians, what we do and don’t say reflect God’s work in our lives and a mean word can quickly close off a curious mind and shut down any communication with them about God’s influence in our own lives. Let your voice be God’s mouth-piece and let your words be a true connection to your faith.
SIN IS NOT ENDED BY MULTIPLYING WORDS, BUT THE PRUDENT HOLD THEIR TONGUES.