Spoken words are powerful. They can injure the innocent or give hope to the hopeless. Words can draw the timid out or shut up the arrogant. Some people have no trouble speaking their minds while others hesitate to speak from their hearts. For better or for worse, words affect everyone who hears them.
Our Learning Mode
While growing up, I noticed the differences between my parents and their style of communication. Mom was never at a loss for words. She could just as easily set people at ease or put them on edge. She could make someone laugh or cause tears of pain. Sometimes, she’d cut you down to size, or build you up. She was a master with words and knew how to use them to her benefit.
Dad, on the other hand, was a supportive communicator. He listened before he spoke, and when he spoke, his words were gentle and few. He knew how to draw out the timid, and encourage the downtrodden. He too was a master communicator, but did not use his words to necessarily benefit himself. Instead, his communication benefited those with whom he communicated.
Like my mom, I am a direct communicator. I use my words to get what I want. My husband, on the other hand, leans more toward being a supportive communicator. Like my dad, my husband listens more than speaks, but when he does speak, it is to the listener’s benefit.
Thankfully, communicators like myself, who are never at a loss for words and know how to use words for their benefit, can learn how to temper, soften and control how they communicate. Likewise, supportive communicators, such as my husband, can learn how to speak from the heart without fear or use more words to speak candidly when necessary. The key to learning is to listen to yourself, and to others while they are talking.
I will never forget when I first began paying attention to the indignant words that spewed forth out of my mouth and all over our rebellious teenage son. But I did not use up my wrath filled words just on him. I also poured forth more of the same vengeful words onto my gentle spirited husband. Hearing what I said forced me to consider what I was saying and why I was saying such things. I’d grown into a bitter and angry woman who needed some alterations.
First, I asked my husband and son to forgive me and once forgiveness was given and received, I began listening, appreciating and respecting how my husband communicated. I did not change overnight, but over time, I’ve turned into a moderate, subdued and controlled direct communicator. Interestingly, my husband has also altered his supportive style of communication and is much more direct and fearless.
Why bother noticing how you speak? None of us are perfect communicators, but the more we pay attention to how we communicate, the better communicators we become.