53 Comments

  1. So true. As an introvert, I rarely speak without thinking first but I do occasionally say things I instantly regret. More because of how it sounds as opposed to having bad intentions. And then I’m not sure how to “fix” it.

    I think “awesome” is the most overused word right now. I try to avoid it even when it might be the perfect word to use!!!

    • We all say awkward things we regret, Linda, and often it’s more uncomfortable for us the speakers than it is for anyone else. If you are thinking about what you say and your intent is compassionate, you’re a step ahead of many people. I agree “awesome” is used so often it’s lost its true meaning of inspiring awe.

  2. Cindy

    This post is perfect timing for me! At our last girls dinner we talked about Lent and giving something up for 40 days. I thought about it and decided to give up “saying not nice things”. I have failed several times. The first time was when a parent (I work with children) was very disrespectful to a coworker I admire very much. I later called the parent a bad name. What I should have done was tell my friend and coworker what a good teacher she is and how much good she is doing for her special ed students. But at least I’m more aware of my words and I’m going to keep trying.

    I think right now people are more divided than ever over politics and speech is full of unkind and hateful words. It’s sad to me that people won’t communicate in a kinder, gentler way.

    • What a perfect choice for something to give up, Cindy. Mindful speaking is definitely a practice, meaning it won’t be perfect. Just keep practicing. The world needs more kindness in word and action. XO

  3. Liz Gwynn

    Such a good post!! I am definitely going to try both of your challenges above. I also want to try and be more mindful of the things I say to/about myself.

    I’d say a phrase that is overused right now is, “I’m dead/dying” when something is really sweet or cute. I think it’s funny, but I’m definitely guilty of overusing that one.

    A piece of advice my mom passed down to us from her Grandma Nokes was, “don’t cry over something that can’t cry back”. I find myself repeating this throughout my adult life often.

    • I’m glad you brought up self-talk, Liz. Many of us are harder on ourselves than anyone else. I think it’s cute when you say “I’m dying” about your beautiful daughter.Keep on using it! I also love that advice from Grandma Nokes. I wonder how I missed that one. Thanks for sharing. XO

    • You’re welcome Donna. I tried not speaking about anyone not present today. So far I’ve slipped four times–only two of those with a negative connotation. Two too many. I’ll try again another day. It was an interesting exercise.

  4. Hi Christie,
    This so reminds me of what we used to counsel our students when speaking to others.

    If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.” ~ Buddha

    Be deliberate…you can apologize but you can never take those words back.

    • I tried it today–not speaking about anyone not present, even if what I was about to say was complimentary or neutral, as a practice in being more aware. It is really difficult. So far, I slipped four times.

  5. Your timing with this is spot on for me. One of my words of intentionality this year is to be more “gracious.” I include how I make people feel, taking care of them and being kind as part of that graciousness. I recently said something unkind but true about someone who was not in my presence. Immediately afterwards I felt bad about it. I realize that I want to be a better being who does not talk unkindly about others. I love your challenge and will gladly take it on!

    • It’s so easy to let unkind words slip out if we are not conscious about it. I’m happy that you are taking the challenge with me. I consider myself a kind person, but I was a bit surprised by the pressure I felt to join in or at least affirm comments being made by others. And if I include nice or neutral things that were said, I was quite surprised by the amount of time we spend discussing other people.

  6. Aha! So THAT’S what mindful speech is! This post really speaks to me right now. It’s been on my mind and in my prayers that I need to focus on this aspect of my life more. Yes, I will accept your challenge. I think the first one may be easier than the second. I know I’ve told myself before to pause and consider before speaking, but it’s harder than it sounds.

    I agree that the word “awesome” is way overused. And I know my son doesn’t like it when he hears “just sayin’ “. He’s been successful at getting me to omit that one from my speech.

    My parents did not allow us to use the phrase “shut up”. It’s so much nicer to say “be quiet”.

    #MLSTL

    • I’m glad this spoke resonated with you and that you are joining me in this challenge. I’m a thinker by nature, so slow, deliberate speech is not generally a concern for me, but I was quite surprised at the amount of time I spent speaking about others–not always unkind, but including nice or neutral, it was just interesting to realize. I’m guilty of “just sayin'” on occasion, but I realized it was becoming a habit, so I’ve been trying to catch myself on that one. My mother also forbid the phrase “shut up,” and I tried to teach my children to say, “I would like” or “May I have” instead of “I want.”

  7. It comes back to the old mantra “if you haven’t got something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. It makes sense not to say something insensitive or hurtful to a person’s face, but it’s a lot easier to fall into the habit of talking about others when they’re not there. After working with a very difficult person, I talked about it a lot (esp to my husband) getting away from her means I talk about her a lot less and she isn’t living in my head anymore – win/win!
    I’ll be practicing your #1 challenge this week!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • Hello Leanne. My mother was told that by her grandmother, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” She passed that on to me, and I do try to remember that piece of wisdom. Of course, there are times when we have to have say things that may be unpleasant to hear. Then it comes down to your intent and your delivery. Also, I think there is something to be said for talking out a challenging situation, like your previous coworker, with someone you trust. The trick I guess is to make sure you are working through the issue and not just tearing that person down. I am happy for you that you were able to remove yourself from that situation. Life is too short–or too long–to be somewhere you aren’t happy. Thanks for joining the discussion and for hosting #MLSTL.

  8. I was always taught, think before you speak, and as an introvert I’ve often thought too hard and too long before speaking up – to my detriment. However, I really do believe in not saying things if they are going to be hurtful to others in any way. Sometimes things slip out inadvertently or without knowledge that they might be injurious, and that always requires an apology but generally speaking it’s just not okay to be unkind with words or use them as weapons of destruction #MLSTL and Shared on SM

    • Like you, Johanna, I tend towards overthinking what and when to say something. I’ve been working on not letting things stew or waiting for the perfect moment. On the other hand, after spending a full day trying not to speak of anyone not present, I was surprised at how much time I spend (and I suspect others spend) talking about other people–not always in a negative way I might add. And when the talk was negative, I felt a certain amount of internal pressure to join in, so as not to seem stand-offish. It’s particularly challenging if another person asks you for affirmation of what they are saying. How do you respond without sounding judgey, especially if on some level you do agree? It’s tricky.

  9. Oh my….what a challenge to an almost non-stop talker. However, I am getting better at not talking all the time.

    I need to slow down my speech…and I also need to only speak to my husband when he is in the same room – we are both getting hard of hearing I guess in our old age.

    Words are powerful weapons and tools.

    Go kindly when you can. It is the only way.

    Thanks so much Christie for a very inspiring post and idea!
    Denyse #MLSTL

    • Thank you Denyse. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s good to slow down occasionally and think about what we are saying. As you pointed out, words are powerful as tools or weapons, and the world needs more kindness right now.

  10. I used to work with someone that took really great care in what he said. He would think over his response in his head and then think about what others might respond back and play that game a few steps down the line. He was ensuring that the response back to what he said wouldn’t be one of hurt or anger. If he thought it could potentially lead that way he’d either not say it or change what he was going to say. Sometimes, it led to awkward silences while he was considering what he would say, but I can assure you that he never spoke anything offensive in the 20 years I’ve known him.

  11. Hi Christie, great to have you at #MLSTL and with such an important reminder. I think we are all guilty at times of speaking first and then thinking. I like the challenge of not speaking about a person who isn’t in the room. So often it is easy to talk about someone in a positive or negative way when they aren’t with us. I love this challenge and I’m joining you! It is always about being mindful in all we do, isn’t it? Have a great week. xx

    • Thank you Sue. Mindfulness is key–key for experiencing and enjoying each moment and for being aware of how we interact with and affect others. I’d love to hear about your experience with the challenge. I gave it a try yesterday, and it really made me aware of how many times I speak about others. I hope to remain more aware in general and will repeat the challenge at least once a month. Thanks as always for #MLSTL!

  12. As my grandmother always said, “closed mouth is the easiest mended”. Of course, I don’t always follow that advice. My tone is my biggest problem along with my facial expressions.

  13. Such a thought provoking post Christie, and I’m a fan of the ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it’. Also as Rotarians we have a four way test that goes like this – Of all the things we think, say or do – Is it the truth, Is it fair to all concerned, will it build good will and better friendships, will it be beneficial to all concerned? I like that it covers most issues and is positive in its intent. Shared for #mlstl

    • That’s a great four-way test, Debbie, very similar in intent to the Buddhist guidelines. I consider myself a kind, thoughtful person, but this week I have become much more aware of the little unnecessary negative things I say on occasion. Holding my tongue, or saying something uplifting in those situations has been a good practice for me.

  14. Hi Christie, I’m so glad I stopped by. You made some very important points in this post and the one that rang truest for me is a bout intention. My mantra lately has been to try to live my life with good intention. I find that when I feel the need to say something negative about somebody, it’s usually because I’m feeling insecure with myself, or someone has wronged me in some way. I’m working on looking inside, when I have negative thoughts about someone, and trying to understand myself better, so I can respond to others, with good intentions. Thanks for an excellent post. I’ll be sharing to FB.

    • Thank you for sharing your mindfulness practice, Christine. If we all acted and spoke with good intentions, the world would be a much kinder, more loving place. The other great thing about looking inside ourselves is that we get to know ourselves better and we live more honest, authentic lives. A win-win!

  15. Oh, Christie, I think you wrote this post for me!! I don’t tend to talk about people (who aren’t present) too often but I am an interrupter. I finish my husband’s sentences at every turn. And I interrupt as if what I want to say is more valuable and important than what anyone else is saying.

    I accept the challenge of trying to slow down my speech and my speaking today and will try to do better going forward. Wish me luck.

    One thing my parents advised was if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all. That isn’t always possible. Sometimes we have to say things that may be painful but we should always examine our purpose/motive for saying whatever it is. Thank you for a thoughtful post.

    • It is sometimes tough not to jump in with whatever comes to mind. We do a listening practice at sangha, listening to someone else’s mindfulness experience without judgment, advising, or even responding. Just listening. It’s harder than you would think. I look forward to hearing how the challenge goes for you. Good luck!

  16. Oooh, this is a good post! I like the goal about going one full day without speaking about someone who isn’t present. That’s a hard one!

  17. Christie, does complaining about politicians in the privacy of my home with my husband count? If so, this is a tough challenge. Otherwise, I am pretty careful about how I talk about others — I’ve never been one to play into rumors and most often try to defend those not in the room. But thanks for the reminder! I certainly am not perfect at it.

    • In order to challenge yourself, Janet, it sounds like you’ll have to include politicians as real people! 🙂 Of course, if you are deciding who to vote for or another course of action, discussing politicians could fall under the “need to discuss as part of your responsibilities.” Good luck!

  18. This is a great post. I am going to try to not speak of someone who is not present for a day. Not sure it will work because I am still in the workforce and sometimes I have to speak about people working on projects with me but I am going to try Positive speech is important for others but it is also important when we are speaking to ourselves. Great post and it is my pleasure to co-host with you at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty.

    • That was my experience as well, Clearissa, that sometimes it is necessary to speak about those not present as part of our responsibilities at work or home. I found this exercise helpful in at least making me aware of my motives and my tone when doing so. It also kept me in check when it comes to idle chatter about others. Positive speech is so important, as you pointed out, in how we speak to ourselves as well. I also enjoy hosting #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty with you. Have a great week!

  19. HI Christie

    Wonderful post. We could all mind our words. I’m not sure I could go a full day without gripping about someone, generally a family member, and generally about something unnecessary to say. I’ll take your challenge and try for one week to just keep it to myself

    “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” offered by my parents

    Thanks
    Laura

  20. Thank you, Christie, for an important reminder of the power of words and mindful speaking, and for linking up this #WellnessWednesday. Next link up is on May 8. Optional prompt: The B.E.S.T. Care (BEST is for Breasts, Eyes, Skin, and Teeth).

  21. I once heard that even when you remove the nails from a board, the hole still remains. It’s like that with words, too. I vow to follow this journey, starting now! I find that in haste, I’m more likely to speak words that aren’t helpful to anyone. I’ll slow down.

    It’s especially challenging on a sideline, coaching soccer. But I’ve done it, and I know it works. And my players (girls’ high school) will benefit.

    “At the end of the day” is an overused term!

    I arrived here at your post through a long line of coincidences. I love that. Glad to have found you through Natalie’s wellness linkup.

    • Hello Eli and welcome. I love your analogy. Words once spoken can never be taken back, so it’s definitely worth slowing down. I’m so glad you stopped by my blog and shared your thoughts. I’m headed over to Coach Daddy now to check it out.

  22. I have always tried to teach my kids that it is often “not what you say, but how you say it” and as you say, once said you can’t take it back. Really inspiring post that well deserved to be a Bloggers Pitstop featured post!
    Hope you don’t mind but I shared this to my regular PainPalsBlog feature “Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!”, Claire x

    • Hello Claire and welcome. Thank you for the kind words. It’s always an honor to be featured on Blogger’s Pit Stop with so many great posts to choose from. Thank you so much for sharing my blog on Monday Magic. I’m headed over to check it out now.

    • You’re welcome, Jodie. It’s a good exercise to do once in a while, if only to make us aware of our words. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear of your experience. Thanks Jodie and have a wonderful day!

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