Keep Words Soft and Sweet

In my grandma’s kitchen hung a picture of a grazing cow with the words: 

              Be Careful Of The Words You Say. Keep Them Soft And Sweet, 

              Because You Never Know, From Day To Day, Which Ones You’ll Have To Eat.

Words matter. In times of conflict, it is common for folks to use language that leads to further separation, i.e., “You ruined my birthday, and I hate you” or “I’m sick and tired of you being such a slob.” Would you feel valued and important if someone said these things to you? These statements may lead to someone walking away, or bringing up other complaints about the relationship. Even though the person may be very important, sometimes words and actions may demonstrate otherwise. 

Distinguishing facts from feelings opens communication. It also helps to avoid using adjectives to describe the person or the behavior. Which sentence better conveys that the relationship with the listener is valued?

1) “When I did not see you at my birthday party, I felt disappointed and hurt.”           

2) “You ruined by birthday and I hate you, you selfish…..”  

Would you prefer to talk with someone who says sentence three or four?

3) “When I see your dishes on the couch and the floor, I feel disrespected.”                 

4) “I’m sick and tired of you being such a slob.” 

Choosing words to be both clear and considerate makes a difference. Will you “be careful of the words you say” and “keep them soft and sweet?”

Conflict coaching and conflict resolution skills training give you the tools to handle difficult conversations more constructively with clarity, confidence, and compassion. 

A civil and family mediator, peace builder, and educator, Sherry Ann Bruckner lives in Alexandria, Minnesota. Visit brucknermediation.com/services to learn more or call Sherry at (320) 808-3212 for help to transform conflict and create peace.

As always, be gentle with you. Be gentle with all. Be the peace.