Mind Your Tongue

We have all heard the famous saying, ‘Manners Maketh Man.’ Sometimes, when someone is conveying the right thing, the way they speak and the tone they use can hurt you so much that you never want to see them, let alone talk to them again. The intent may be right. However, the sarcasm or tone makes it unbearable to listen or speak. So why should we mind our tongue? Our language, vocabulary, and our lingo.

A Russian proverb says, “words, once spat out, cannot be swallowed back.” It simply means watch what you say. Every word has an impact, and that impact has a reaction, good or bad. As children, we have been constantly reminded to say please and thank you. We are also taught to share and care for others. Unfortunately, sometimes this learning goes out the window with time. Not always, but sometimes. There are a hundred reasons why we tend to forget our manners. Maybe we had a bad day, and our boss, colleagues, teacher, spouse, siblings, or parent gave us a good telling-off. Or things did not go the way we wanted them to. Whatever the reason, we have, at some point or another, been mean and unkind with our words or actions and hurt those around us intentionally or by accident. So, how do we keep our cheeky tongue in check!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making conversations,
be it at work, with friends, or with family.

1. Take a step back.

When you are upset and just had a bad day. Always take a step back when you are about to go all guns blazing at anyone or everyone who seems to be irking you for no reason. A split-second outburst can cause more damage than a 2-minute break, even in conflict.

2. Have some water. 

Sipping on water has a few positive effects on our minds and body that go way beyond simple hydration. First, it helps pace a racing heart. It cools the mind, especially when angry. Second, it gives you a break from your thought process and a chance to reflect before you react. It also helps you breathe better by taking a deep, relieving breath as you sip the water.

3. Practice being mindful.

Ever so often, we forget to give any heed to the feelings of others, especially when we are in a rush or upset. Practicing mindfulness helps us show others the respect they need and deserve. It also helps us treat others with the right amount of concern, care, and class. In a world of becoming selfish and disconnected, staying grounded and respectful of others is crucial. They, too, have value and emotions. But, unfortunately, they can get hurt just as quickly as you.

4. Be assertive and not aggressive.

Being assertive is a simple yet less-used skill by many of us. Assertiveness means knowing how to treat others while standing up for your beliefs – giving people the respect they deserve while holding on to your own. Being assertive is also the ability to stand up for others when needed. And also means knowing when to say no. However, there is a clear difference between assertiveness and aggression. And that is a line you need to keep clearly in check. Know when to stand your ground and know when to apologise if you are wrong.

5. Know when and how to thank people.

There is an old practice that has been around for years. When you borrow a friend’s car, always return it filled. As input in a tank full of fuel after using it to say thank you and show that you are not using people without realising they’re worth in your life. Gifting is also an excellent way to appreciate those in your life. Appreciating people, though, does not always mean buying them stuff. It can also mean doing things for them, like mowing the yard of an elderly neighbour, buying their groceries, taking sick neighbours dogs for a walk, and watering someone’s plants when they are out of town.  

6. Never make someone feel bad about themselves.

As kids, we used to tease each other and make fun to the point where sometimes it was cruel. Intentional or not, it hurt our friends or the person we were taunting. Not a good thing to experience. An unkind word can scar for life. A simple comment on someone’s weight, height, body type, and skin tone can seem harmless. But it can damage the person to whom these comments are hurled. 

7. The attitude of being grateful.

Also called the attitude of gratitude, we will not be here forever. If we must leave a legacy, it has to be one of being grateful for all the things we experience. Humility and gratefulness help us teach others how to respond further when they experience something nice. 

Whatever your situation, whatever your circumstances, always remember to be friendly, grateful, humble, and kind. The world has rude, mean, angry, and wretched people. Even when we are hurt or angry, let us be the ones who will make a difference in our lives first by being kind to ourselves and then to others by being humane and humble and mindful and respectful. Let us be trendsetters, valuing others as we do ourselves and making this world better. Our commitment should be to make the world around us meaningful with our attitude and actions. 

Follow Ignatius Deepak Stanley

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