How You Say What You Say Matters

In our minds, we think we know the perfect thing to say. However, we do not always say it the way we imagine it.

I learned that one day while walking with my wife. We were walking past the beach and she mentioned how much she liked the sound of the water. “One day, I would like to live by the water. It would be nice to open the window and hear the water from our house.”

Now, I had a choice in how to respond. I chose the wrong response. I shot back a comment about how much it would cost to live by the lake.

After saying what I said, I knew I messed up. Instead of encouraging my wife to dream, I shot down a dream. It is not what I meant, but it is how it came out.

That stopped our conversation dead in its track. For the next few minutes there was silence. After that, the subject changed.

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
— Dorothy Nevill

Many times in our daily speech we think that we are saying the proper words. It is only after the words exit our mouth that we realize that what we said was inappropriate.

Saying the right thing requires tack and common sense. When you are tempted to shoot back a response, pause for a moment and ponder what you are going to say.

If I had paused and thought about what I was going to say, I could have avoided the awkward moment with my wife. After the words left my mouth, I thought of what I could have said.

What I should have said was “It would be nice to live by the beach. It will take a lot of hard work but we could do it. What do we need to do to achieve this goal?”

Changing how I said what I said would have changed the tone of the conversation and directed it towards a positive outcome.

When you are in a situation like this, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • Could this be taken the wrong way?
  • Would I like someone to say this to me?
  • Is this the best way to say what I am about to say?

By pausing and considering your words, you can avoid many embarrassing and awkward conversations if we just take a few seconds and think it over.

Words have set whole nations in motion…Give me the right word and the right accent and I will move the world.
— Joseph Conrad

Question: Do you ever say the wrong thing? How do you rectify the situation? Please share your insights in the comment section below.

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