Aug 052013 13 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.

 

13 Responses to Use Hard Words Not Harsh Words
  1. Janet Atchley Reply

    Very well said Kevin.

  2. dennyneff Reply

    Thanks for writing this. I needed it today. It’s wonderful how the Lord provides what I need when I need it. Love you Pastor.

  3. […] Use hard words not harsh words. Word choice is vital when it comes to communication. A simple choice... kevinathompson.com/top-10-communication-posts-your-co-worker-should-read
  4. Patricia Reply

    Very well phrased pastor,the issue comes when ‘i’ becomes so often that the blame now turns to me.but i have understood the strength of ‘i’ for the good of our relationship

  5. […] post originally appeared on Kevin’s blog. Reposted with […]... couples.marriedpeople.org/2015/05/hard-words-not-harsh-words
  6. cyo Reply

    Dear Pastor,
    Believe me, I have tried this. “I feel…”, “I think…” And my spouse takes it to mean that he is responsible for something, and turns it into “So you mean I am this….” And then it becomes a discussion of twisting words, and defending myself: “No, that’s not what I meant”.

    The result is that before I say anything, I rehash it in my mind over and over and over and over, looking for the best way to say it so that it doesn’t get misunderstood. And then many times, I end up not saying anything.

  7. […] There is a difference. (See: Use Hard Words, Not Harsh Words) […]... kevinathompson.com/hurt-doesnt-define-heart
  8. Xinma Roy Reply

    Thank you permitting us to share a message that is well-suited for anyone that disagrees with another person.

  9. […] When we ask humbly, we are honoring the other person and recognizing their contribution to the relat... kevinathompson.com/humble-honest
  10. […] 4. Too avoidant. When parents never confront difficult issues, you might learn that true love never... kevinathompson.com/parents-hurt-your-marriage
  11. […] 2. Restrain harsh words. Kindness is expressed through actions. While not doing something doesn̵... kevinathompson.com/5-acts-of-kindness-to-add-to-your-marriage

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