Think Before You Speak
Posted: Sep 28 2017
Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Being a person possessing a fair amount of empathy, I’ve always been rather sensitive about words. I’m constantly in my family or close friend’s ears asking them - “What did you expect to achieve with that comment?” and “Did what you said make the situation better or worse?” Many times over I’m met with an eye roll, or told that I’m too sensitive…but with time I’ve begun to believe that perhaps my regular reminders have made a small dent in some people’s consideration of behaving politely.
Plenty of us, myself included, need to find a way to express anger or sarcasm. Unfortunately, accusations and complaints are often such a powerful reaction that the wise old adage of “think before you speak,” rarely comes into full effect. Although I’ve made much progress over the years in this aspect, I’m still frustrated by the way meaningless comments are so easily uttered, with the sole purpose being to hurt someone. I remember the many times my brother and I were guilty of this as children, but it becomes even worse when adults exhibit such destructive behaviour.
It could be a husband’s foolish comment on the style of his wife’s outfit; a wife’s lamenting over her husband’s lack of energy; a parent’s comment to their child: “That’s why you don’t have any friends” or “Why can’t you be more like your brother?”; or perhaps an aunt’s uncalled for remark: “If you ever want to get married, you need to lose weight.”
There are certain circumstances for which there are no excuses, as they are completely offensive and should never be spoken. However, the tone, moment, and choice of words can create a mountain out of a molehill. Slight, or even accidentally hurtful remarks can sting just as badly as intentional, blatant ones. This is why I truly believe we all have a duty to be more careful with our words and be ready to apologize when we realize that we’ve made a mistake.
We have to remember that words carry meaning, and can be used as weapons - sometimes of mass destruction. Oftentimes we try to excuse our poor choice of words, saying it was just a joke, for example. In reality, if we think over this and consider if it was in fact funny, the answer is often no. Other times we might quip, “I was just telling the truth!” Give a little thought as to whether this “truth” actually needs to be addressed, whether the person who vocalized this “truth” had a right to do so and the way in which it was spoken. Honesty, without tact, is just cruelty. There’s no real defense mechanism that justifies the many situations where we are hurtful to one another. Despite someone’s cruelty to you, it does not excuse behaving in the same manner in return.
Perhaps there is still need to consider another old motto: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all" :)
Katarina Kalaminec // Lifestyle Writer