Communication help, pt. 4

Did you miss parts 1-3? See here: part 1part 2part 3.

Today we’re going to cover how to choose our words wisely. My mom has a term she likes to use called “diarrhea of the mouth”. As you can imagine, this is not a pleasing ailment to have for yourself or those around you. It refers to people who just talk and talk, not filtering their words in any form or fashion, and generally saying every word that comes to mind. People with this ailment are not very fun to be around to say the least. So how do we avoid this diarrhea of the mouth? How do we keep our words healthy? By filtering them, avoiding character attacks and doing away with blanket statments.

“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” Proverbs 10:19

First, we’ll discuss filtering. Something I’ve been teaching my children lately is that our words should fall into one of the following categories, and if they do not fit into this acronym, then we keep our lips closed. I think this has been around for decades, but it’s still important to keep in mind. Here it is:BeforeYouSpeak

So, before we start speaking, we take a second to put the words through the filter in our brain to be sure they will fit into these categories. By using the filter, it can turn the “diarrhea of the mouth” into life giving words of encouragement.  For many of us, this may mean we will be doing half the speaking that we used to do. And it certainly takes practice to use the filter instead of just saying everything that comes to mind. But it is a worthwhile endeavor to choose our words more carefully.

It’s important to note that there are times that our words may hurt someone, not because we are mean-spirited as the speaker, but because the truth hurts. Sometimes we must confront the sins of others to rebuke and teach, and this is not always pleasant to the hearer. Especially in these types of potentially hurtful situations, we should use the THINK filter. Then, knowing that we have filtered our words through this acronym so that we are aiming to be helpful and kind, and that the words are necessary, then we can still say them with confidence even though the person receiving the words may be initially hurt by them. Sometimes hurtful, hard words must be said (but always done in love).

“The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.” Psalm 37:30


Now, onto character attacks. No one likes to be called hurtful names or have our character attacked. Our words as the speaker should always be used to build up others, not tear them down. Again, you may need to confront sin in order to build up, but your motivation is in helping the person, not tearing them down. So when confronting sinful behavior, we should never use character attacks such as “you’re so lazy!”, but instead say “When you don’t put your clothes in the hamper, the floor is messy and then I have to come pick them up”. This second example is much more helpful in teaching the person to pick up their clothes. Or instead of saying “You’re such a loudmouth!”, we say “You may want to try filtering your words so that people are more receptive to what you say”. The second statement is much more helpful in teaching good communication. Focus on the behavior, and don’t attack the character of the person you are talking to.

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29

Another thing to be aware of and avoid is using blanket statements such as “you never pick up your clothes!” The hearer will probably think, yes, I do sometimes – I did it last week! Avoid “You are always so rude!”, because the hearer will think , well, I wasn’t rude yesterday to the cashier at Walmart. So be careful of words like “always” and “never”. (They’re usually not true, and remember the “T” of our acronym above).

So, in our communication, remember the acronym THINK (truthful, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind), and also beware of character attacks and blanket statements (always and never).

Grow your healthy, happy, and fruitful home by carefully selecting your words.

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