Communication is a powerful tool. As SLPs, we’re keenly aware of this. As a human race in general, I think we undermine the power we hold in our hands.
A few weeks ago, I was listening to the video segment of IF:Equip’s Anno Domini Volume II series. During the course of a conversation about social media and culture, Jennie Allen said three little words that struck a chord with me: Is it helpful?
Our words have the ability to do so much. They can cause joy and they can cause pain. They can build one another up and they can tear one another down. But it goes beyond words. In graduate school, I learned that 60% of communication was non-verbal. And so, it’s not only our words that we must mind. It’s our body language, our tone. It’s not just what we say, it’s how we say it. I regularly teach this in social skills groups, but again, it’s a power we tend to ignore.
We have such a great responsibility when communicating with others. Even when I don’t “feel like” being kind or encouraging or respectful, it’s my responsibility to be so. I may never know the impact of my words in those moments when I feel I have the right to use them negatively, but that doesn’t change the fact that they do have an impact. Just as I may never know the impact when I choose to use my words in love.
I want the words I say and the way I say them to always bring love. To always be helpful. I want to never feel as though my communication has caused harm.
It seems I’m regularly reading a news story about a child who has chosen to take their own life due to how someone around them communicated to them. They’ll probably never know the power their words had.
I regularly have conversations with people who have been poorly communicated with. They feel unvalued, misunderstood, unloved. And the ones who caused it will probably never know.
Is it helpful?
It’s a skill I’m striving towards, to speak only words that spread love. It’s a skill I want to instill in my students, to speak only words that are helpful to others. Join me?