Mind Your Speech
“When meditating, watch your mind. When in the world, watch your words.”
– Buddhist Saying
We humans have this amazingly sophisticated feature called speech and we have the ability to choose how we want to use it. Furthermore, how we use our words has an immediate impact on others. It matters what we say (and often what we don’t) and how we say it. Unfortunately deception, gossip and aggressive speech are all too common nowadays, particularly in the virtual world, so it’s important to bring in kindness and take responsibility for what we put out there.
These are some common unhelpful ways to use speech:
Aggressive speech: we’ve all said things we wish we hadn't, words can harm others for life and break relationships.
Untruthfulness: this is not just about lying but also exaggerating the truth, shading or omitting it.
Gossiping: we’re talking about malicious conversations, speaking about others when they’re not present in a disrespectful way. It doesn’t help anyone, it only infuses anger and negative emotions. It makes us small.
If you ever find yourself about to talk or write in any of these ways, here are some questions you can ask yourself before you start nuking the world with destructive babble:
Is it true?
Is it helpful?
Is it kind?
Is it the right time?
What makes me say what I say? (Am I talking out of anger, resentment, fear, frustration… or out of love, care and compassion?)
WHY IS IT GOOD?
Speaking kindly and mindfully will improve your personal and work relationships.
Your levels of anger and negative thoughts will be reduced, feeling more at peace with yourself.
Speaking untruthfully not only is unhelpful to others, it can also be exhausting, you need to keep track and remember what you said. Speaking truthfully makes our lives easier.
Here are some situations where you can start practising mindful speech:
Your workmate starts gossiping about the boss’s terrible fashion taste.
Arguing with your partner about why it is important to put the toilet lid down.
Replying to other people’s comments on social media, forums, etc.
When raising a complaint because your morning coffee is not as hot, tasty, sweet or cinnamony as every other day, even though it’s the same barista, the same machine and about the same time in the day when you have punctually ordered it… I mean, what’s the world coming to?