Over the years, it seems that being mindful of the way one speaks has become synonymous with being “politically correct,” which, for many people, has become a truly “bad” thing. As you may have witnessed, this repudiation of political correctness has emboldened people to “say it like it is.” No longer should people worry about how the listener is impacted by our words since we all deserve to speak our truth, so we shouldn’t have to sugar coat things. Right?
First off, equating being mindful of the way one speaks with being politically correct isn’t helpful. Why? Because equating anything with politics these days isn’t helpful:-). Some people believe that being politically correct is being dishonest. Being mindful of the way you speak is not about being dishonest or not sharing your truth. It simply means sharing your truth while also honoring the other person by the way you share that truth. There’s a difference between saying, “You’re such a jerk! I’m tired of how you talk to me!!!” versus, “The way you speak to me is harming our relationship. If you don’t change it, then you and I will be in trouble.” Being mindful of the way you speak is about honoring those around you and safeguarding your relationships. It’s also about basic humanity. If you don’t care about either, then don’t be mindful. If you do care, however, then you better pay attention to the way you speak.
The reality is that words matter. What you say and how you say it matters. This reality does not mean that you can’t be honest. Healthy relationships require honesty. They also require compassion, kindness and thoughtfulness. The idea that you should be able to say anything to anyone the way you want to say it is a ridiculous idea. At least it’s a ridiculous idea if you think you can say anything without consequences.
Your words have power. They have the power to tear others down or to build them up. When you use them to tear others down, those you tear down will distance from you. Some will become resentful, others will become angry and still others will be hurt. Over time, the more unfiltered you become in the way you speak with others, the more damage you will cause to the relationship and to yourself. People don’t like to be around people who aren’t nice to be around. People grow tired of being around a blowhard or bully or [fill in the blank]. If you don’t want to take the time to be mindful of the way you speak, others won’t take the time to be mindful enough to listen.
Challenge: Your words have the power to bring others closer to you or push them further away. They have the power to create change or stop change in its tracks. You get to decide which path you want to go down—but if you choose to not be “politically correct,” then don’t complain about the fallout of that decision. Live with it and be 100% accountable for what happens as a result.