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Style and Substance: Use your words!

Michele Armani and Sally Meisenheimer

Michele Armani and Sally Meisenheimer

Dear style & substance:

Twice this week I have heard someone say, ‘use your words’. I always think of it as a sarcastic remark, but does it actually have some value?

Your first reaction to use your words as a sarcastic comment is fraught with emotion. We feel that sarcasm has no place in healthy relationships. That being said; our interpretation is two-fold. First, we’d like to say that asking another to ‘use your words’ has some value, but possibly using a different expression would open the door to better communication. For example, another interpretation that we have is more like, ‘consider the words you are choosing and the effect that they are having’. This term is most often used in situations of intense emotion, so trying to diffuse the intensity before real conversation begins will also set the stage for better communication and resolution.

Very often instead of articulating emotion, we act first and deal with the fallout later. This most likely means that our frustration has gotten the best of us and we are impulsively behaving without thinking. It is a good time to perform a version of ‘stop, drop and roll’ in order to ultimately communicate with grace and truth. The power of emotion can steamroll over reason and respect, so stop long enough for reason to reenter the picture.

Swearing or yelling unnecessarily is demeaning to the listener as well as the speaker. (Almost always, swearing and yelling are unnecessary.) No real good comes from this type of interaction. We may feel better in the very short term; however, after emotion subsides, we often feel much worse. This may be a time when someone says something to the effect of “use your words”, as they are trying to head off the train wreck.

Always remember that the only way to expect people to “use their words” is to demonstrate your commitment to responsible and respectful communication yourself!

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A S K Style & Substance:

Michele Armani and Sally Meisenheimer

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Email your questions or request a life coaching appointment to yourstyleandsubstance@gmail.com for more information: visit our website at yourstyleandsubstance.com

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