ďStrumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
killing me softy with his song
killing me softly with his song
telling my whole life
with his words
killing me softly with his songĒ
We all sang along with Roberta and Aretha back in The Day. The Fugees have a new generation humming along. Itís a great song. Itís a universal truth.
Words can kill.
There are actually 30 definitions of ďkillĒ. Weíll just look at the most common.
To cause the death of; (Do not lie about another person, or gossip)
to deprive of life in any manner;.(Because you only work 36 hours, we canít give you benefits)
to destroy; do away with; extinguish: (I was never going to wear your gift, so I gave it away)
to destroy or neutralize the active qualities of; (Youíre talented, but youíll never make a living at it)
to spoil the effect of; (Thatís the wrong way, watch how I do it)
to muffle or deaden; (Why would you do anything so stupid)
to cause distress or discomfort to
(You have a pretty face, if only you would - - - -
Are you going to wear that?
You're a problem child.
I wish you were more like - - - - -
You donít deserve this.
Thatís your problem, not mine.
Youíre a big boned girl.
Thatís the way we always do it.
Heís kind of small for a guy.
Let me bring you my fat clothes.)
Most of us would not say something like these statements to a personís face. Most of us have said something behind a personís back, and sometimes been caught at it. Our words meant for one ear are carried to the very person you didnít want to hear them.
The rule of thumb is this Ė would you want it said to you? If not, do NOT verbalize it at all. In your head, think of a kinder way to put something, or remind yourself to see the situation in a better light.
Wikipedia has tips for breaking the bad habit of killing with words (adapted for this article):
ďBad habits are easy to make, but extremely hard to end. Good habits, on the other hand, tend to take more time to make. Luckily, scientists agree that the average person needs at least 3 weeks to form a good habit. For more specific means of doing this:
1. Know what you want. If you can perfectly visualize the habit in your head, the work will be easier.
2. Make a list of the benefits of your new habit. For example, I wonít hurt peopleís feelings, I wonít embarrass myself or others, It forms good character, etc.
3. Commit to the habit. If you want to change, you have to work at it. Do not quit if you have one failure.
4. Set your own goals, and reward yourself. Write the goals down, and post them all around. In your kitchen, bedroom, office, bathroom. Once you've met those goals, treat yourself to a movie or a pizza. As long as the treat isn't anything you're trying to quit.
5. Start slowly. If you want to become a nicer person, pick one person to be nicer to. Then add another to the list. Then add a difficult person. Keep adding in order to adapt to the habit.
6. Go for consistency rather than performance. For example, if your goal is to do daily push ups, it's better to start by doing one push up EVERY DAY for a month than by doing 20 push ups for two days and then giving up. After you have done one pushup consistently for a number of days, you have formed the habit. Now increase the number of push ups gradually from there, all the while striving to do some number of push ups EVERY day.
7. Consult a friend. It's what they're there for. To comfort and help you in times of need. Ask them to keep track of your accomplishments, or act as a therapist if something goes wrong. It's alright to do this. They should be happy to.
8. Even after your goals are set, don't continue to gossip, criticize or judge. You need to make this a lifetime thing if you're serious about it, and you can't stop after just 3 weeks.
9. It can be tough to muster up the motivation you need to change your lifestyle. Use each Sunday to recommit if you fall off track; that way, you have 52 chances to get motivated to make a change in your life."
You can kill a personís spirit, squash their creativity, deflate their self esteem, destroy their hope, all with words. Words can never be taken back. Never.
Or you can use words to encourage, build up, support, elate or achieve