Many people are too interested in hearing themselves talk. All of us are guilty of that at times. The problem with that is when we are busy talking we're not listening, and listening is the most important part of a conversation and a basic component of a healthy relationship.
Unfortunately when we do talk, we often are careless with the words we use. That's how people get hurt and misunderstand one another.
Words are important and I grow more appreciative of people who choose their words carefully.
I was reminded of this last week by three unrelated incidents.
Sarah Kay, 23, a spoken-word-poet who has become a role model for teenage girls around the world, remembered elementary school. She brought her lunch to school every day and every day her mother or father would write a poem on a little piece of paper and fold it up and put it in her lunchbox. Every day at lunch she would have a new poem waiting for her. It was a surprise to anticipate, a gift she could unwrap.
She said the poems were very short and often silly but it gave her a connection to poetry at a very early age and really affected the way she feels about poetry today.
Just a few words carefully and intentionally chosen by her parents and now poetry is Sarah Kay's life work as she writes and teaches.
Then there were the words of a doctor speaking on palliative care who said when we are facing our dying time there are only 11 words that matter: “Please forgive me. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you.”
Then there was the luscious bouquet of fresh flowers with a card that only had two words on it.
We underestimate the impact our words have on others.
Perhaps you would like to join me in giving more thought to how I listen and the words I choose when I speak. They matter.
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.