Textured Speech

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.

We’ve all heard someone say – it’s not what they said, but how they said it! In fact, most of us have either said or thought this at one time or another. The words were true, but how they came out made them ineffective because of the way they came out.

I once counseled a young woman from New Jersey. She was upset that people reacted angrily to her suggestions. They closed off. They argued. They refused to hear even the most plainly positive suggestions. She asked me why. My response shocked her – It’s not your words, but the texture of your speech that’s the obstacle.

Speech has texture. Much like a silk handkerchief feels good on the nose, but a steel wool pad doesn’t, so our words come with texture. The good news is that we get to choose what words we use and thereby control the texture. We need not choose steel wool when silk will serve the purpose and leave no mark.

A craftsman chooses his tool very carefully. He doesn’t use a sledgehammer to seat decorative tacks in a cabinet face. He uses a small tack hammer. He doesn’t swing like he’s breaking rock, but like he’s gently seating a tack. He uses the smallest nail that will do the job adequately.

Too often, in our speech, we send a chainsaw to do what fine sandpaper will accomplish. We fell the tree rather than trim the branch. We use words that are abrasive and unkind when gentle and kind words are the tool most needed. We “set them straight”, “get our point across”, “give them what for”, and sit and wonder why our message is rejected and a battle ensues.

I know no one wants to hear this, but this is the speakers failing. The problem lies not with the receiver, but with the sender. The sender has chosen the wrong time, tool, or texture. Success is more likely when we first consider: Are my words from a place of love? If not, stop. Are my words gentle? If not, stop. Are my words kind? If not, stop.

Choose the texture of communication first, match the words to the texture, then time the message appropriately. It’s seldom our words, but rather the texture of our speech that leads to hurt. Be Gentle, Be Kind, Be Love.

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