“The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.” Proverbs 10:8
As a child in the playground, I remember saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." As an adult in the workplace, I can say that is not true. Words can hurt.
You have likely been the recipient of hurtful words. Perhaps someone at work told you that you had not done a good job. Maybe you heard someone gossiping about you. Perhaps someone misunderstood your intentions and insulted you. Maybe someone made fun of something significant to you. If you have been in those situations, you know that words hurt.
For all of the above situations, there were other ways they could have been handled. For instance, the person did not have to say you did a bad job: they could have commented on what you did well and what could be improved. The person gossiping should not have let the words leave their mouth. The person who misunderstood your intentions could have simply asked you to explain your actions or comments instead of making assumptions. The person making fun of you should not have let the words leave their mouth. They should have put a guard over it.
"Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." Psalm 141:3
One of my favorite definitions of the word "guard" is "to watch over (someone) to prevent them from escaping." In other words, you guard your mouth to prevent hurtful and harmful words from escaping. This does not mean you do not address issues in the workplace that need to be discussed, no matter how difficult. It does mean you need to guard what you say and how you say it. Someone I know once told me: "Words are like toothpaste: you can't take them back once they are out."
This week, be conscious of what you are saying and how you are saying it. Put yourself in the other person's shoes before letting words out of your mouth. Would you appreciate those words, or would they be hurtful? Be in control of your comments by setting a guard over your mouth and then deciding if the guard can be dismissed. That is the decision you need to make.
Taking This to God in Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, help me to choose and say words that honor You and bless others. Words can hurt. Please help me to be conscious of what I say and how I say it. Please set a guard over my mouth to prevent hurtful and harmful words from escaping. When I have a difficult conversation, please help it be edifying and professional. In Jesus' Name, Amen.