Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Being Slow to Speak Vs. Quick to Respond

Although it may not be intended to come across this way, meaningful advice isn't always so meaningful. Sometimes, I think as women it's so easy to think we are being helpful with our words when really it causes the person on the receiving end to feel worse. 

Here's an example for you. Accidents happen, as in my case with my food allergy son consuming milk. There have been so many times since this latest reaction where I think of how I could have done this or that differently. But that's the thing, whether it's an accident or something tragic that happens, it wasn't planned by any means. 

We have to be careful with the words that follow a traumatic event. Whether we mean to help or not, the person(s) going through whatever has happened already knows how things could have been different. If it's an accident, they already know how it could have been avoided and feel tremendous guilt concerning the event. If it's a mother who suffered a miscarriage, they already know deep down that it happened for a reason. If someone just lost another person in their life, they already know it was part of God's plan. If it's an everyday life situation, like a woman raising her child(ren) or an overweight person experiencing health issues, they already know how they want to do things in most cases. 

What they want to hear is that everything will be okay. What they want to hear is that they are loved. What they want to know is that they can keep on moving forward. 

What they don't want to hear is the unwanted advice on how their child will sleep better when they never asked for that advice. What the person experiencing a job loss doesn't want to hear is how it must have happened so they could get a better job. What the person who is experiencing major health issues doesn't want to hear is how they can change it, especially if your health is good. 

I've been there as I'm sure many of us have where we offer words that sting the receiving end more than encourage. I remember a time when someone dear to me shared about some health problems they had and I immediately jumped in with how I would fix it and what they could do. Was it really necessary? Was that really helpful? What they wanted was a listening ear not an interrupting know-it-all. 

Mostly, what the person wants to hear is how you love them no matter what. They want a hug and an ear ready to patiently hear when they are ready to talk about it. And you can pray with them and for them. 

More importantly, we must be careful that what we say doesn't come out because of our natural tendency to compare. When we compare ourselves, which many of us do, the words that come out because of it can do more harm than good. Because of this, we think by speaking, it will make us feel better about ourselves. But does it?

It's as if we think if we were in their shoes, we wouldn't have let ourselves get that way. We think we are in better health so we can offer the other person advice on their health that we brought up. We think we could have handled a situation better so we tell them how it should have been done. We feel we are doing well financially and over cross the boundaries with our financial advice. 

Our words may be meant to help or they may be meant to help us feel better about ourselves. Either way, we truly have to be slow to speak. We have to really think and carefully assess the situation before giving away advice to another. 


  1. You are spot on, Carrie! It's so easy to let our advice and opinions fly out of our mouths before we consider how it sounds to the person on the receiving end. Thanks for the reminder!
    Blessings, Elizabeth
    @Blessed Beyond the Mess

    1. It is definitely a challenge, isn't it? Thanks for reading the blog! :)

  2. Carrie, you hit the nail on the head!!!! I had a "well-meaning" friend do this to me much earlier this year and it set off my PTSD really badly. I thought I was doing nothing right!!!!! We are just now, very slowly, beginning to speak again. Thank you so much for posting this. As I try to tell people with my illness, we are all different. I really needed to hear this tonight. God Bless you and your family. Love you and miss you lots!! 💜

    1. Oh man! That must have been hard. Thank goodness for reconciliation, though it can be a tough process as well! Its so true that with illness, it can be so different for each person. We love and miss you too! You are amazing!