It is not what you say, but how you say it.


Words, words, words

It’s not what you say but how you say it…

How many times have you heard that?  How many times have you said it to someone?  My daughters can tell you that they heard it a lot from me especially in those pre-teen and teen years.  The tone that people use in their voices can tell you so much more than the words they say.  And while in this modern age of texting and email you can’t always tell the tone of the message the words are still there to convey the message, (and the occasional smiley face).

We all know that our words, spoken or written, can build up or tear down.  Our words can offer soothing comfort to someone or tear them down.  They can encourage, discourage, warm, freeze, build and destroy.  Words are so powerful, probably more powerful than we realize.

How many times have you said something not quite so nice only to follow it with “I was only kidding”?  Not realizing that once those words have been said they have already done damage, damage that cannot be easily repaired with a simple 4 word statement “I was only kidding”.

And how many times have we said something with a tone that belayed the true meaning of the words we are speaking?  A simple “I’m sorry”, with a condescending under tone is not truly  I’m sorry.  Words spoken harshly out of frustration or anger cannot be undone by a simple “that’s not what I meant”, or “I didn’t mean it to come across that way.”

I have heard it some people said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, that statement is usually uttered when someone has said something unkind or mean.  While I agree with that statement I think that it needs to be remembered that it has a positive side to it.  If a heart is filled with joy, laughter, forgiveness, understanding and a desire to be kind, then the words that come out build up, encourage, move someone forward towards a goal, lift up the heart of someone who is struggling and can make the difference in someone’s day.

Yes, we all have bad days when our words could do more harm than good, and we all have those days when we can’t think of a blasted good thing to say about someone or something, and it’s those days when we need to guard our words, use them sparingly or not at all. On those bad days when our hearts are filled with anger, frustration, and possibly a lovely pity-party that no one else needs to be invited to, think before we speak, chose our words and tone carefully.

So, I encourage myself, and you, the next time we are tempted to say that sarcastic retort to a fellow human being let’s stop, take a breath, and think before we open our mouths and use those words to wound, or make a point (a point I might add that will be lost on our victim because of our tone), and let’s see if we can’t rephrase and re-tone that remark towards a more positive result.

 Ecclesiastes 6:11 “The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?”

I pray you each have an uplifting, encouraging day.

One thought on “It is not what you say, but how you say it.

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