As a young child when hearing an insult, you may have resorted to saying “Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” We know that really isn’t true. We sometimes interpret words in such a way that we are offended by them even in circumstances where the person who said them did not mean to hurt us. Relationships between siblings, parent and child, spouses, employer and employee, co-workers, friends, etc. have broken down because of spoken or written words (and even the lack of them).

“Choose your words carefully” is an admonition given when dealing with sensitive issues or awkward situations. This caution takes into account the feelings of the audience who may be in an emotionally vulnerable situation (e.g. someone who has just been diagnosed with a serious illness or someone who has just suffered a loss). Why shouldn’t this caution apply to every single word we speak or write each day to any and everyone? If we adhere to the cardinal rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” we won’t go wrong.

Just as words can be hurtful, they can also be uplifting. Take time to let others know you appreciate them. If you try consciously, you will find it easier to compliment even someone you may not like. For instance, compliment the clothes they are wearing or say “you look very happy today, that’s nice.” If that individual is usually grumpy, it may encourage her to be happy more often. Of course, be sincere, don’t say it if you don’t mean it. You will never know the impact you will have on the person you have expressed your appreciation of and you could be the only person who was nice to him that day.

Words can be your tool. Send a written note or card to those you want to keep in touch with on special occasions to let them know you remembered, or for no reason at all except to say you thought of them.

Make it a daily habit to be joyful and express your joy using words.

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