‘These are the times that try . . . ‘
This month’s theme is ‘Gandhi month’. Last week I shared a Gandhi’s quotation about choosing his written words, very carefully.
Here is the quotation.
‘To be true to my faith therefore, I may not write in anger or malice. I may not write idly. I may not write merely to excite passion. The reader can have no idea of the restraint I have to exercise from week to week in the choice of topics and my vocabulary.
It is training for me. It enables me to peep into myself and to make discoveries of my weaknesses. Often my vanity dictates a smart expression or my anger a harsh adjective. It is a terrible ordeal but a fine exercise to remove these weeds.’ (from Mahatma Gandhi – The Great Communicator).
Why do I bring this up?
I’d suggest that Thomas Paine, in constructing the words and syntax of his above famous quotation, would have also had an ordeal.
Perhaps he had to show restraint in his choice of topic and vocabulary. Perhaps he had to avoid a smart expression or remove a harsh adjective.
Paine’s quotation could be expressed in many ways. For example:
‘Men’s souls are tried by these times.
These are trying times for the souls of men.
Times like these try men’s souls.
These times try men’s souls.
Trying times for men’s souls are these.’
However, none of these variations expresses the thought better than Paine’s version.
Why do I bring this up?
To encourage you to exercise more restraint in your choice of spoken (and written) words. To take a moment to consider what words, voice tone and body language would have the best influence with a person.
One definition of effective communication is saying the right thing, to the right person, at the right time, at the right place, in the right manner, for the right reason.
Now it may not be possible to get all those aspects in alignment. But by taking a moment to stop and think . . . . before you speak you’ll improve the odds of achieving the influence and/or outcome that you want.
Own the Conversation
Here’s a recommended task for the next seven days.
- Consider a simple message that you need to deliver to a person. Consider the best time, place, manner and words to best convey the message.
- Take time to wordsmith the sentence(s) – the words and the syntax.
- Practice your delivery to capture the right tone.
- Then deliver the message.
- Reflect on the impact of the message and the worth of taking some extra time in crafting it.
p.s Check out this post entitled: Be Bold. No one honours the timid.