Before You Speak

I've made a life-long study of the human personality and how it functions. And if there is one predominant theme that comes through time and again, it is that people are incredibly vulnerable to one another.

I'll never forget the day I was standing in front of my elementary school waiting for class to begin. I was 11 years old and in the fifth grade at the time. The bell rang and then, suddenly, a boy walked up to me and called me "skinny".

Now that happened more than 40 years ago, and yet, I still remember it as though it were yesterday. The interesting thing is, is I don't remember anything else about that day, or even that month, of my life, yet I recall the insult vividly.

As adults, we're just as sensitive. On the job, someone will make a comment which offends a co-worker. It may or may not have been intended to hurt and yet, five years later, the person is still seething. I've known family members to carry grudges with brothers and sisters, even parents, that endured for years. In some cases, they've forgotten what started the fight in the first place, and yet, they remain angry and distant.

Careless words have destroyed more relationships and strained more marriages than any other human vice. The tongue is a knife that can cut another person to the quick.

So the next time you're tempted to make a comment at someone else's expense, take just a moment to think before you speak. You may be glad you did. With Focus on the Family, I'm Dr. James Dobson.

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