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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How You Say It

Photo Credit:  prawny from
The other evening at dinner, my 6-year-old daughter was being quite, um, rowdy, let’s say.  She was hopping around the dinner table like a rabbit and couldn’t sit still in her seat when she finally found her seat.  So, my 9-year-old daughter rolled her eyes and mumbled in a disgusted, grumpy voice, “She is SUCH a spaz!” 

Of course, this statement made my 6-year-old immediately respond with tears, “That is SOOOO rude!  That’s SO MEAN!”  I leaned over and whispered into my 9-year-old’s ear, “That wasn’t nice.  Why don’t you say that she’s energetic instead?”  Then, my 9-year-old announced again, much louder, with a smile, bright eyes, and an incredible amount of energy, “She is SUCH a spaz!!!” 

I asked her why in the world she repeated the same exact thing and she said…in all honesty…“I thought you wanted me to just say it energetically?”  Yes, I did hold back a giggle at her interpretation.  Oddly enough, my 6-year-old was smiling at this point because now she wasn’t sure if it was a cut-down or a compliment.  It was a moment that I won’t forget.  I guess it’s not so much the WHAT, but the HOW, huh?

In doing a bit of online research, I found a statistic that read: 10% of conflicts are due to differences in opinion.  90% are due to wrong tone of voice.  Again, it’s not the WHAT, but the HOW…

I’ve heard this before as well, but it’s a great reminder to think before we speak.  THINK stands for:  T – Is it true?  H – Is it helpful?  I – Is it inspiring?  N – Is it necessary?  K – Is it kind?  A tongue has no bones, but it is strong enough to break a heart.  We need to be careful with our words.  There’s a way to say what we mean without being mean.  I love this quote, “Raise your words, not your voice.  Rain grows flowers.  Thunder does not.”

I’ve touched on this in other posts, but I’m fascinated with it and there is some great information out there about body language that emphasizes the importance of the HOW, not the WHAT:

POSTURE - Posture is one of the first things people notice about us.  It’s important to stand tall, without appearing too rigid.  It shows confidence and strength, so stand up straight, Sunshines!

HANDSHAKE – We shake quite a lot of hands in Texas, don’t we?  We aren’t supposed to crush the hand of the other person, but a great deal can be said through our handshake.  Make it firm, but not crushing.

BODY POSITION – That stance of ours is important!  It can set the mood of the conversation.  Research shows that opening our stance to the person we are talking to gives off a sense of vulnerability.  It makes us appear more approachable and personable.  Supposedly, if we turn our hips off-center, it makes us appear defensive.  So, watch those hips, people!  Ha!

NEUTRAL FACE – Actually, our “neutral face” matters quite a bit.  Some folks appear to be scowling or angry…all the time.  Sometimes, we can come across as mean, even if we don’t, um, mean it.  So, smile.  It’s worth a try.

EYE CONTACT – Apparently, this is the aspect of body language that people mess up the most.  We should work to find that happy medium between intensity (serious, scary staring) and diversion (avoiding eye contact altogether) so that people will know we are sincere in what we’re saying.  Shifty eyes can also show deceptiveness or aloofness.

I know we’ve all had experiences with the HOW being so much more important than the WHAT.  We could list several examples:  Saying I’m sorry.  Saying I love you.  Asking for forgiveness.  Offering forgiveness.  Heck, even telling a joke…

Here’s a fun little story from Mikey that made me smile.  I’m pretty sure it was HOW Grace said what she did and not WHAT she said:

After twenty years of shaving himself every morning, a man in a small Southern town decided he had enough.  He told his wife that he intended to let the local barber shave him each day.  He put on his hat and coat and went to the barbershop, which was owned by the pastor of the town's Baptist church.  The barber's wife, Grace, was working that day, so she performed the task.  Grace shaved him and sprayed him with lilac water and said, "That will be $20."  The man thought the price was a bit high, but he paid the bill and went to work.

The next morning the man looked in the mirror and his face was as smooth as it had been when he left the barbershop the day before.  "Not bad," he thought, "At least I don't need to get a shave every day."  The next morning, the man's face was still smooth!  Two weeks later the man was STILL unable to find any trace of whiskers on his face.  It was more than he could take, so he returned to the barbershop.

"I thought $20 was high for a shave," he told the barber's wife, "but you must have done a great job.  It's been two weeks and my whiskers still haven't started growing back."  The expression on her face didn't even change, expecting his comment.  She responded, "You were shaved by Grace.  Once shaved, always shaved."  (Cute, huh?  And, a great reminder of Jesus’ love and saving grace!)

Speaking of love…love is another thing that’s more HOW than WHAT.  Love is not so much WHAT we say (although hearing the words, “I love you” never gets old for many people, including myself).  Love is more than that.  Love is what you do.  Love is HOW you prove your love to be true.

Here’s to a week of showing love, thinking before we speak, using a better tone of voice, being aware of our neutral face, watching the direction of those hips, and saying what we mean…without being…mean.  Surely, God can help us with all of this.  Let’s ask Him.

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

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