Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tame It Tuesday

Today we’re going to exercise an incredibly strong muscle in the body – your tongue. How often has your tongue been in overdrive and you’ve blurted out something that you wish to this day you could take back? If you’re like many of us, you can remember things both positive and negative that were said to you from your earliest childhood days. One comment can some days make or break you – it reminds me of the old rhyme (which I’ve revised a bit): “Stick and stones can break my bones, but words… can break my heart.”

One goal I have for myself this year is to continue learning to use my words wisely, to help build up and not tear down, for I know I can be a “verbal sniper”, shooting word bullets at the drop of a hat with a scathing sarcasm of which I am not proud. I want my words to be drenched in love, kindness, encouragement and positive humor. I want them to come spilling forth from my lips dripping with authenticity and hopefulness so that everyone I meet may feel better having spoken with me.

To do that, my lips and jaws need extra exercising – keeping them shut, that is. There is a little Bible verse that I often pray each morning to ask God’s help in doing just this. In Psalm 141:3 it says, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Sometimes I use the Coach Linda revised version – “Oh God, keep my mouth shut and my lips sealed today!!!!” I find that when I don’t say something at the expense of another (even joking around), but remain silent, I never regret it.

Also, sometimes we just need to listen – we only have one mouth but two ears, so shouldn’t we practice listening twice as much as speaking? Do you spend the better part of your conversations thinking about what you’re going to say next? Or do you focus on the person speaking and give them your full attention, waiting until they are done before speaking, instead of stepping on the end of their sentences? Do you interrupt when others are speaking? I clearly remember one time having someone tell me, “Linda, I don’t want you to fix it, I just want you to listen!!!”

Another area that needs to be eliminated is gossip – ain’t nobody gorgeous when gossiping. Steven Covey calls gossip “confessing another’s sins”. A good rule of thumb when “passing along” information about someone else is to ask yourself: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Would I say this if the person was standing in front of me? If you can’t answer every single one of those questions – then shut your trap, sister! Just as no one wants to spill anything to a person with a rep for being a gossip, as you build a character of being known for not saying bad things about anyone, people will be more comfortable around you and probably seek you out.

So as the New Year begins, practice speaking less often, with more thought and love, seeking to foster true communication from your heart. We exercise our bodies to build them up – now let’s exercise our words to build up others. Don’t joke at someone else’s expense. Hold back those snippy verbal cuts and sarcasm, and instead lavish with praise, respect and support. Promote a verbal physique that will be more beautiful that words can say!

(Picture is by Norman Rockwell and is entitled “Gossip”)

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