Does your job require you to speak a lot? Do you like to talk a lot? Are you married or in a relationship? Then you are at high risk for Foot-In-Mouth disease. The Proverb says, “When words are many, sin is not absent…” (10:19). For sure, when words are many, something regretful or downright stupid is sure to escape your lips.
Here are three remedies for the dreaded disease.
- Don’t say the first thing that comes to your mind.
Researchers call this “editing.” It is the discipline of reflecting on what you say before you say it. Some people pride themselves for “speaking their mind.” But Scripture is clear that speaking is not something to be proud of.
Everyone should be…slow to speak…. James 1:19
…a man of understanding holds his tongue. Proverbs 11:12
He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. Proverbs 21:23
So, slow down…and think before you speak.
- Wrap what you need to say in kindness.
Researchers call this “leveling.” Scripture calls it “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Communication must be clear, truthful, and transparent. Many spouses are afraid to level with each other for fear of expressing feelings in a way that will be hurtful. One way to speak the truth in love is to use the X, Y, Z approach.
When you did (or didn’t do) X in situation Y, I felt Z.
Instead of: “You jerk! You forgot Valentine’s Day, again!”
Try: When you didn’t buy me a gift (X) for Valentine’s Day (Y), I felt hurt and insignificant in your life (Z).
Instead of: “You really make me happy!”
How about: “When you held my hand (X) as we walked into your companies Christmas party (Y), I felt deeply satisfied and secure (Z).
Feeling can be expressed with words such as: glad, warm, nervous, frustrated, low, bad, angry, lonely, euphoric, sad, excited, irritated, happy, pleased, embarrassed, anxious, or agitate
- Timing is everything.
There is certainly a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Communication at the wrong time will not be heard or will be misunderstood more often than not. Communication will not be effective when the listener is preoccupied, tired, or stressed. That’s why “hallway” conversations at work and at home create confusion and misunderstanding. When you need to communicate something important, make sure the timing is right.