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Put yourself in the place of the listener – before you speak

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT by Rev Heather Stewart, Parish of Latheron

Speak Less Listen More.
Speak Less Listen More.

According to statisticians, the average person spends at least one fifth of his or her life talking. Ordinarily, in a single day enough words are used to fill a 50-page book. In one year's time the average person's words would fill 132 books, each containing 400 pages. That is a lot of talking!

The power of the tongue cannot be overestimated. An early civil rights leader, Marcus Garvey, said: “The pen is mightier than the sword and the tongue is mightier than them all.” The apostle James wrote: “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” (James 3 v5)

The tone or words are the sparks that can rage into a fire that is destructive to relationships. If only we would think twice before speaking, then we would most likely speak half as much. If only we would put ourselves in the shoes of the listener, then we might understand how the criticisms, harsh words, and sarcasm we intend to speak sound.

A sharp wit might not bother one person, but could deeply wound another. Remember that we have two ears and one tongue. We need to be mindful that people have different sensitivity levels. Before you speak the words you are about to say, put on your listening ears and see how it would feel if they were spoken to you. In doing so, you might just temper your words with more compassion and kindness.

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