“It is better to leave a space empty of words than to choose the wrong ones.” – Bee Farseeer
This quote is from a fictional character I was reading yesterday. She was a very young girl who was wise and articulate beyond her years. But it still struck me as profound.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say. I’m not given to platitudes, so I often find myself at a loss for words. I don’t want to say the same thing to everyone, nor do I want to say the same thing a person is going to hear from everyone else. Although the sentiment is most certainly there, the words ring hollow because they are so overused. They are the wrong words for me. What are the right ones? Honestly, I frequently don’t know. But I know that whatever words come out of my mouth need to be chosen with care.
What do you say when you are so angry that words fail you? You can curse and rail against your real or imagined offender, likely saying things that you will later regret. Or you can adopt a more conciliatory tone to ease the tension. Or you can say nothing. Any one of these choices may to correct or incorrect. That depends on so many variables that often you cannot control. Things like venue, setting, other people, timeliness, the crime committed or alleged, the personalities of the people involved, or other more urgent things to say or do first will determine which tact is best.
But sometimes, too often, these things are not taken into account and all discretion is completely thrown out the window. The person goes off like truck full of fireworks struck lit with a match. This only serves to make the situation a whole lot worse than it needed to be and puts the other person on the defensive. Anger gives rise to anger and the disagreement escalates quickly, often to violent ends.
Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath:
but grievous words stir up anger.”
Think about your words before you utter them. Honestly and critically. This is even more important when you’re riled up and ready to strike a person down with a vicious retort that will certainly put them in their place and show everyone that you are the victor, righteous in your cause. Be it with and avalanche of accusations and judgements, or one or two cutting words expressed at the right tenor, pitch, and tone that stabs deep into the heart of your adversary, you have shown yourself to have the quicker, edgier wit.
Consider, though, that the right words in such a situation can often defuse the argument. More often than not, there was a miscommunication or misunderstanding the precipitated the disagreement. But pride gets into the driver’s seat and you want to stand up and prove that you’re correct. Nothing less than complete capitulation will do.
Ask yourself, then – What am I trying to accomplish? If it is really your intention to beat that person down with words so badly that they can’t even lift their eyes to meet yours, instead casting their gaze to the ground in complete and utter humiliation? Are you looking for a fight? Then by all means, say whatever comes into your head.
But be ready for that fight.
You should also be aware that you could turn your allies against you.
Proverbs 16:18 “18 Pride [goeth] before destruction,
and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
If you truly want peace and understanding, then carefully chosen words are called for. Acknowledge that you may not have understood, or perhaps you were unclear. Take responsibility for a portion and work beyond that to your goal.
While war is sometimes called for, peace is by far preferred.