When people are frustrated, the go-to emotion is to verbally put others down. What happens when someone’s favourite football team massively capitulates at the end of the match, or their neighbours are again loudly arguing late at night, or our political leaders institute yet another lock-down that ruins holiday plans again? Frequently words come out of people’s mouths which are unkind to say the least and more often derogatory.

How about when colleagues at work are talking about a co-worker that did something wrong, or when friends are around and the talk goes to the local club official that isn’t running things the way that we would? Do we resort to gossip? It is a ‘choice morsel’. We all have gossipped, and sadly, likely all will in the future. However, how would you feel if you were the one that others were talking about in this way? How would you feel if you were in that room?

Abraham Lincoln is often quoted as saying: “It is better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”. While there is wisdom in this, and it has a lot to say about listening (as we have two ears and only one mouth – so speak in that proportion), can we do better? Can we raise the tone of the conversation? 

Just like we can use words to tear people down, we can use words to build them up, whether they are in our presence or not. We can change the direction of the conversation, like “I wish I was that fit to be able to play at that level and loose”, “They must be going through a hard time, perhaps we can take them a box of chocolates in the morning”, or “I wouldn’t want to be a politician, so many tough decisions and always in the spotlight, it’s a very tough job”. Etc…. 

Lets look for opportunities to be thankful and encouraging regarding people’s efforts. Encouragement motivates people. 

Lets aim to remove unwholesome talk and to ‘encourage one another and build one another up’.

This article was originally published on LachlanSoper.org.au