A colleague recently advised me to be “kind to my soul” during a period of grief. I had not heard this expression before and was surprised that it came from someone I did not expect to share that sort of sentiment. This made me all the more appreciative of the words and the thoughtfulness of them in my time of need.
Too often in our communication we offer banalities and platitudes when we should be thinking about the purpose and intent of our communication. Rather than say “time will heal you” which may or may not be true, the words she offered gave me a purpose, a direction, a reason to do something even if I couldn’t immediately see what that would be. The words served a dual purpose. They made me reflect on her thoughfulness and they also provided me with some forward direction. They allowed me to give myself permission to feel sad but reassured me that I could perhaps do something to ease the feelings I was experiencing.
Another angle of this is “accurate speaking”. It encourages us to be more specific in our verbal communication when we might generalise or be vague for the sake of getting our opinion known. For example, how often have you heard “Generation X and Y just expect the world to be placed at their feet”. Is this truly accurate? Or is it a variation of what every generation has faced from an earlier one? When I first joined the workforce I was told more than once that we (as in my generation) had it easy because so much more was automated than previously. I have heard my grandparents say to my parents that they (my parents) were lucky not to have to work a 50 hour week! If each of these generations had been more accurate in their speech, the message would still be there about changed working conditions but the negative generality would not mar the exchange. Just for the record, I believe every generation has had both bonuses and challenges. The only difference I have seen over the generations is an increase in self belief and confidence but no less of a work ethic at any point. The attitude you give out is the one that gets reflected back to you.
Being accurate in our speech makes for better, clearer communication. Being gentle in our expression can help heal.