Be Careful With Your Words

October 1, 2008

Words are powerful. Be careful what you say.

A beggar was down on his luck and was panhandling on a busy shopping district in the city. As a couple strolled by, he called out: “May the blessing of the Lord, which brings love and joy and wealth and a fine family, follow you all the days of your life.”

There was a pause as the couple passed his outstretched hand without contributing. Then he shouted after them, “And never catch up to you!”

Talk about anger. Hmm… where’s the tact.

A businesswoman brought her new-born son to the pediatrician for his first checkup, the doctor said, “You have a cute baby.”

Smiling, she said, “I’ll bet you say that to all the new parents.”

“No,” he replied, “just to those whose babies are really cute.”

“So what do you say to the others?” she asked.

And the doctor said, “When I can’t say you have a cute baby, I just say…He looks just like you.” At least the doctor knows how to be careful with his words.

Now listen to this story.

Three salesmen were driving cross country when their car broke down far from civilization. After walking for some distance they came to a farmhouse. They asked the farmer if there was a service station nearby. He replied that there was one in town but that it wouldn’t be open until the next day. He offered to let them stay at his house that night, on one condition… “Don’t draw attention to my son, he’s very sensitive because he was born without any ears.”

After agreeing to his wishes the salesmen spent the night with the farmer. The next morning at the breakfast table the son noticed that the salesmen were staring at him. “What are you looking at?,” he demanded. The first salesman replied, “I was looking at your beautiful smile, it’s important to take care of your teeth so you don’t have to wear dentures.”

The second salesman said, “I was looking at your thick curly hair, it’s important to take care of your hair so you don’t go bald and have to wear a wig.” The third said, “I was looking at your clear blue eyes, it’s important to take care of your eyes,… Lord knows you can’t wear glasses.”

I mean how tacky can you be? Words are powerful. And we have to learn how to use it appropriately.

A young man was applying for a job as clerk in a shoe store. The store owner asked him, “Suppose that a lady customer asked you, ‘Don’t you think one of my feet is bigger than the other?’ What would you say?” The young man responded promptly, “I’d say, ‘Oh, no ma’am! If anything, one is a little smaller than the other.”‘ That is tactfully said.

Before speaking, take a few moments to think through what we are going to say.

The moment words leave our mouth, they are no longer ours and we have to be accountable. Words may harm and words may heal but sadly, the harming words usually outnumber the healing words.

Do not use words to throw mud at people. And believe me there are many who do. One thing I know about throwing mud at other people is that you get your hands dirty and you lose ground. ( pun intended )

And what happens when others verbally attack you? How should you respond?

Learn a lesson from General Robert E. Lee.

General Robert E. Lee was asked what he thought of a fellow officer in the Confederate army who had made some derogatory remarks about him. Lee rated him as being very satisfactory.

The person who asked the question seemed perplexed. “General,” he said, “I guess you don’t know what he’s been saying about you.”  “I know,” answered Lee. “But I was asked my opinion of him, not his opinion of me!”

This is what makes him great as a leader and as a soldier.

You cannot control what others say about you but you certainly can control what you say about others. Let your words be seasoned with grace and do not allow corrupt communications to come out of your mouth. A major part of self-control is tongue-control.

And what happens when people slander you with vicious and malicious words?

My family and I have been on the receiving end of this experience and the attacks are vicious. The attacks have not just continued, they have indeed intensified. Sending mysterious and anonymous brown envelopes to business executives and owners containing fabricated stories and charges against me. I have to admit that this is a game I do not know how to play. I have always believed that people of nobility and character would never do things like these. It is painful to realize that slander and smear campaign are painful but it becomes more  painful specially if they come from people you have helped and cared for in the past.

But here’s my take on this.

If you have experienced this, then remember the lessons I have learned from this.

There’s no doubt that slander hurts. There is only one letter difference between “words” and “swords”. But do not dignify false accusations by being defensive and do not glorify evil by becoming like your slanderers. If you are on the side of truth then truth itself defends you.

Harvey Mackay said it best when he said: “Do not wrestle with a pig. The first reason is that you get dirty and the second reason is that the pig loves it.”

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. dan

    I attended this leadership seminar in UP ISSI and one of the things I learned and I will never forget is that everything you say in front of your people has an effect and its up to you whether it is good or bad… 🙂

  2. Dean

    cool! this is remarkable. great work!

  3. Johnsenn

    absolutely correct Mr. Francis Kong. No doubt! it’s more on, STOP, LOOK and LISTEN…

    STOP before you say anything.
    LOOK at the people around you and
    LISTEN to your heart.

    “ang mga salitang nasabi o nabanggit na ay kelan man ay hindi na mababawi pa”

    some faulty words had been said because of CARELESSNESS for what people may feel and it will have a very big impact to the personality. Sometimes, the words we say reflects with our personality.

    Thanks Mr. Kong for a wonderful article. Ciao!

  4. mae

    yeah… that’s right… everything you say will definitely affect someone either good or bad… I, myself sometimes? cannot control to say some words that would have bad effects on other people (especially to my students)… (it’s really hard to be a teacher sometimes, especially when dealing with students with an “attitude”…)

    it’s a very nice article… you would really learn and realize something!!!

    i believed teachers like me should READ this article…

  5. Daisy

    It’s a very nice article..Whenever I turn on the computer,I always go to your website because I know I will learn a lot from your article..Sometimes.if people say something bsad or something that hurts me,I just shut my mouth because I don’t want to say something bad too..Do you think I’m right Mr. Kong? May I ask your opinion?

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