Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Word

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanging; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935)

Careful choosing of words is important when misunderstandings seem likely, since some people have selective hearing. Giving them as little as possible to manipulate is a smart move in any debate. If there is any chance of having your own words thrown back in your face, it just makes good sense to avoid arming other people with anything heavy that might be utilized against you later. And it is usually better to keep it as simple as possible for clarity sake. Let's face it folks, all is not fair in love, war, or word use.
Have you ever noticed how the computer puts language to a special kind of test whenever many locations speak together in one place. Many words and praises used by people in one country mean something quite different in another. Confusion can be mostly avoided by suspending all urges to assume and gently question any statement that makes you go hmmmmmmmmmm.
Timing is also essential to good communication; if everyone is speaking nobody is really listening. And a single word, of a positive nature, well placed in a timely manner can defuse even the most volatile situation. Shoving a negative one in is like lighting a firecracker with a blow torch. Use your words wisely, but also time them so the do the most to heal or help.
Thoughts voiced without forethought are often thoughtless enough to leave open wounds that take years to heal, if they ever do. Think before you speak and you will have to do much less apologizing later on. But if necessary please remember that eating crow is always easier when it is still warm.