Posts Tagged words

Tearing Others Down is Easy; Say Something Nice Instead

By Mitch Carnell Nay 30, 2019 -Ethicsdaily.com

Every one of these privileged students wrote from a negative viewpoint. One or two did contrast positive speech and negative speech. The verbal abuse these young people have already experienced is heartbreaking.

Parents, teachers and coaches should be about the business of inspiring these students as opposed to tearing them down.

I know how hard it can be to always say the right thing. My grown son has made me painfully aware of the times when I failed to make the right remark.

When he cleaned his room as a child and waited for my approval, I tried to be honest and yet encouraging. “You’re getting there. It’s looking better.”

What he heard was so different. “You failed. It’s not good enough. You’re so messy.”

I never uttered one of those statements, but those are the ones he heard.

Forty-five years later, those words are still there and no matter how sorry I am or how much I try to explain, they are still in his nervous system and color our relationship.

I am proud of my son and all that he has accomplished in spite of my poorly chosen words.

How many other words did I say with good intentions but that hurt instead?

I carry deep within me words that were spoken to me with good intentions 75 years ago. I can still recite them.

When I let my guard down, they surface and contribute to a feeling of worthlessness – of never being good enough. My father confided to me things that were said to him years earlier that, even at his advanced age, still carried a barb. Words once spoken never die.

He did not know how to pay a compliment even when he was very pleased with some event or success.

Norman Vincent Peale is one of my heroes; however, he was ridiculed as being “religious light.”

His successor, Arthur Caliandro, became a friend, but this remarkable man was painted with the same negative brush.

When we first celebrated Say Something Nice Sunday (the first Sunday in June), the editor of the Florida Baptist newsletter wrote a front-page editorial referring to it as “Gospel Free Sunday.”

According to him, we were watering down the gospel. Does his Bible not record that Jesus said, “You are the light of the world?”

In her recent book, “Call It Grace,” Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, recounts in painful detail the verbal abuse she received from her mother.

This brilliant theologian still carries those wounds into one of the most respected religious positions in the world.

In contrast, she received uplifting words of encouragement from her famous father, but he could not erase what had been done.

Unfortunately, I know how to verbally slice you up, and I am good at it. I was a member of a successful debate team in college and taught debate as a faculty member.

I am sorry to say I have used those skills all too often. I am trying to get as good in demonstrating and teaching a better, more productive way of communicating. It isn’t easy.

Being positive is a challenge. Being negative is easy. People expect and accept negative criticism, but they are suspicious of positive comments. They are silently asking, “What does he want?”

As this year’s “Say Something Nice Day” approaches (June 2), I hope you’ll think back to those people who encouraged you. Think of those who said the right things. Think of the verbal gifts they gave you.

Then, bring their remarks into the present. Speak them aloud. Use these images to replace those of people who put you down and belittled your efforts.

There is wonderful Scripture that supports this practice: “From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely and all that is worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)

Mitch Carnell

Mitch Carnell is a member of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina. He is the author of “Our Father: Discovering Family.” His writings can also be found at MitchCarnell.com.

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Never Criticize;  Always Encourage

My second grade teacher, Mrs. Workman, said to me, “You are a polite young man.” One of our children’s directors at Northside Baptist Church said to me, “I am surprised at your behavior. I expected better from you.” Two very different statements about my behavior at about the same time. It is a vivid example of our ability to make choices about what side of ourselves we choose to share. We are in control of us.

Each of us has the power within for good or evil. We can choose to be truthful or to lie. We can choose to be kind or unkind. We can choose to be polite or rude. We can choose to build other people up or tear them down. Our words reveal what is in our hearts.

The temptation is to blame others when we show our more unattractive side. “The devil made me do it,” is an easy out. I was being attacked or I had to defend myself are often cited as reasons. for revealing our darker sides. In today’s toxic climate it is easy to fall into the victim role or to lash out. It takes determination to stay the course. That does not mean that we will get it right every time. There are no pills to take that will insure lifelong success. We can only try each time the opportunity to show our better side presents itself. The more we succeed increases our chances of success next time.

We are all works in progress. We are under construction. Finding the right words never becomes easy; however, it does become easier with practice. Words are powerful instruments for good or evil. “Loose lips sink ships.” “I no longer call you servants, but friends.” “We the people.” “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” “Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.” “You lie.” Once spoken words can never be recalled. They are out there forever.

Words are powerful. Use them wisely. We all have choices whether to be instruments of harmony or whether to be instruments of discord. Most of the people I know are desperately in need of words of encouragement. There is already enough negativity out there.  We are constantly being drowned in a sea of poison language. Resist the urge to strike back. Let it go. If possible, offer a positive word. Remember, “People may not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.”

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Welcome Anaheim California and Mayor Tait

Mayor Tom Tait of Anaheim and the City Council issued a proclamation declaring Say Something Nice Day on June 1. Mayor Tecklenburg of Charleston sent him a copy of my book, Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter at Work. They had met at the National Mayor’s Conference.

Mayor Tait campaigned on a platform of kindness. He declared Anaheim the City of Kindness. Say Something Nice Day fit beautifully with that theme. When I met with Mayor Tecklenburg and Mrs. Tecklenburg they were both enthusiastic about that idea. Michelle Hill in Mayor Tecklenburg’s office and Loretta Day in Mayor Tait’s office were both extremely helpful. I received a beautifully executed proclamation from Anaheim signed by Mayor Tait and all of the council members.

Little by little, we are making progress. The harsh rhetoric that is so prevalent in our national discourse is taking a toll on our national character and the lives of individuals.

We would welcome your help in persuading your city to endorse Say Something Nice Day on June 1 each year and/or your church to celebrate Say Something Nice Sunday on the first Sunday in June.

Words matter. In Charleston we have witnessed firsthand the power of words to heal.

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Never criticize.  Always Encourage.

My second grade teacher, Mrs. Workman, said to me, “You are a polite young man.” One of our children’s directors at Northside Baptist Church said to me, “I am surprised at your behavior. I expected better from you.” Two very different statements about my behavior at about the same time. It is a vivid example of our ability to make choices about what side of ourselves we choose to share. We are in control of us.

Each of us has the power within us for good or evil. We can choose to be truthful or to lie. We can choose to be kind or unkind. We can choose to be polite or rude. We can choose to build other people up or tear them down. Our words reveal what is in our hearts.

The temptation is to blame others when we show our more unattractive side. “The devil made me do it,” is an easy out. I was being attacked or I had to defend myself are often cited as reasons. for revealing our darker sides. In today’s toxic climate it is easy to fall into the victim role or to lash out. It takes determination to stay the course. That does not mean that we will get it right every time. There are no pills to take that will insure lifelong success. We can only try each time the opportunity to show our better side presents itself. The more we succeed increases our chances of success next time.

We are all works in progress. We are under construction. Finding the right words never becomes easy; however, it does become easier with practice. Words are powerful instruments for good or evil. “Loose lips sink ships.” “I no longer call you servants, but friends.” “We the people.” “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” “Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.” “You lie.”

Words are powerful. Use them wisely.

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