Aug 052013 14 Responses

Use Hard Words Not Harsh Words

Love demands difficult conversations. Issues must be confronted. Feelings must be communicated. Frustrations must be expressed.

For any improvement, difficult conversations must take place.

Marriages, families, teams, or workplaces which are healthy approach difficult conversations in a drastically different way than those which are unhealthy.

The biggest difference between healthy cultures and unhealthy cultures is the difference between hard words and harsh words.

Healthy people and organizations use hard words.

They aren’t afraid to say what needs to be said.

They don’t hesitate to communicate.

They put the welfare of others above personal comfort.

They say hard things.

It’s not easy for most people to look another person in the eye and say:

  • I’m not happy.
  • I didn’t like that decision.
  • I disagree.
  • I was wrong.
  • Will you forgive me?

These are hard things to say, so most people avoid them.

They avoid the words, but the issues remain.

As the issues remain, negative consequences fester, frustrations grow, and tensions mount.

Eventually, conflict erupts and the feelings which have been hidden explode to the surface.

However, in the forced confrontation, hard words often give way to harsh words.

Instead of discussing the issues, we attack the people.

We blame.

We injure.

We find the weakest spot and launch an all-out assault.

We seek to win the argument at all cost.

While hard words provide an opportunity to expose a problem and fix it, harsh words distract from the issue.

They put a person on the defensive and never result in conflict resolution.

The hardest word to say is “I.” It is hard because it requires us to reveal our true thoughts and feelings. It demands something from us to say:

  • “I feel ____.”
  • “I think _____.”
  • “I believe _____.”
  • “I want _____.”
  • “I will _____.”

The harshest word to say is “you.” It stops communication. It defines the other person without allowing them to define themselves. It injures others when we say:

  • “You think _____.”
  • “You feel _____.”
  • “You always _____.”
  • “You never _____.”
  • “You are a _____.”

Hard words are full of potential; we should have the courage to use them.

Harsh words are full of destruction; we should have the wisdom to avoid them.

Few things can change the culture of a family, workplace, or team like replacing harsh words with hard words.


14 Responses to Use Hard Words Not Harsh Words
  1. […] Use hard words not harsh words. Word choice is vital when it comes to communication. A simple choice...
  2. […] post originally appeared on Kevin’s blog. Reposted with […]...
  3. […] There is a difference. (See: Use Hard Words, Not Harsh Words) […]...
  4. […] When we ask humbly, we are honoring the other person and recognizing their contribution to the relat...
  5. […] 4. Too avoidant. When parents never confront difficult issues, you might learn that true love never...
  6. […] 2. Restrain harsh words. Kindness is expressed through actions. While not doing something doesn̵...
  7. […] compassionate, humble, bold way takes true faith. Whenever someone admits something hurt, says the h...

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