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How What You Say Exposes Who You Are

Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t say something stupid, then act surprised when they’re called on it.

Words are powerful reflectors of what’s inside a person. And since our society has removed almost all barriers of decorum and appropriateness when it comes to saying what’s on our minds, some people reveal a lot more than they realize.

This is amusing on one hand, disappointing on another.

It is amusing when a tall, strapping executive barks rudely and loudly at some underling on a cell phone while pouring cream in his coffee at a Starbucks counter. He probably thinks he looks pretty cool and sounds like a leader. I think he must have been one of those kids on the grade school playground who shook his fist at a foe and bellowed, “My Dad’s gonna beat up your Dad!”

It is disappointing because this guy believes that Starbucks or the airport or the sports bar or any other public place is his mobile office. His conversations trump ours simply by virtue of volume and outrageousness.

The coarse vulgarity of so much language in the public square reduces most of it to white noise. There’s a constancy to it that makes it unremarkable. But the blunt savagery of it over time has caused many people to harden against it. When people harden, they lose the ability to see what’s good or to appreciate things that are funny, kind, or caring.

It is embarrassing to listen to the shameful way politicians berate each other. Instead of being statesmen and women, they behave more like belligerent toddlers unschooled in either critical thinking or effective communication. Do they realize how silly they look? Do they understand the power they have to diminish the quality of our lives by setting so sorry an example?

Does anyone remember the power of silence? Or how effective a well-considered bit of communication can be not only in the moment it is issued, but for long after the moment has passed? We teach others with our words and actions. Let’s take some time to consider the effects of our language, to think before we bray, and to choose words that convey our intended meaning.

Let’s also pay close attention to what others are saying. When they utter nonsense, let’s ask questions about what they mean. Let’s start challenging one another to communicate more intelligently and with some purpose. Not only would we contribute to a reduction in noise pollution, we would also start demonstrating a better way to live and work with others.

Categories: General Advice