The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, May 18, 2003
Lead Article

Edit your words before speaking
R. C. Sharma

Illustration by Sandeep Joshi"FORTUNES and misfortunes, friends and foes reside in one’s tongue", is not an extravagant statement. "Mend your speech a little". cautions Shakespeare in King Lear, "lest you may mar your fortunes." A Sanskrit poet goes a little further and states: "Prosperity is in the gift of words; tongue makes relatives and friends; by wrong use of words one slips into an inescapable trap; death knocks at his door who is unwise in the use of words."

You must, therefore, edit your words before you speak. Whether you are before an interview board, talking to your boss or to some high-up, you should weigh your words wisely and properly and only then utter them. Your words should not hurt the feelings of others. If you speak unwisely, you can mar your chances of selection for a job, spoil your career or can be deprived of any other important favour which you want to get from others.

Words, man’s invention, are his medium of exchange. They are life and denote everything making life: words of wisdom: words of sincerity, courtesy, respect and appreciation; words of humour, hate and thanks; words meant to destroy; words that are dynamic; words that are soft, persuasive, gentle and kind; religious words; delicate words; mighty words; words of hell and heaven, glory and defeat, laughter and sorrow; words of love— all of them vibrant, all of them pregnant with meaning, each word passing into tomorrow without a duplicate and with very little change.

Words rule our life and create consequences: words that flowed from the mouths and pens of greatmen like Socrates, Demosthnes, Voltaire, Douglass, Roosevelt, Gautam Buddha, Swami Vivekananda, mahatma Gandhi, S. Radhakrishnan and many others.


Social equilibrium is often lost at the wrong time. Whether it is a gorgeous lady saying "NO" to your proposition or a major advertiser flatly turning you down, the important thing is not to let negative emotions show or use harsh words.

You might have noticed that public relations men and women are expert in negotiations and in handling their clients. They have in them the special qualities to deal with persons by using polite, courteous, sweet and persuasive words. They do not show any negative feelings in case they fail to strike a deal. You, too, can master the art of good public relations to attain success in your life. This can be done by having a sweet tongue in your mouth, by uttering sweet and polite words.

Do not lose your temper. In a fit of temper, you can finish a friendship unnecessarily, make enemies and throw away opportunities. Although, you may regret it later and even apologise for losing your temper but spilt milk cannot be put into the pail again. By then you would have shown people the ugly side of your character and demonstrated your lack of control.

A sociable man avoids all the sins of speech. He trains and controls his tongue. He remembers the poet’s warning:

"Boys flying kites have in their white-winged birds; you can’t do that way when you’re flying word; ‘Careful with fire’ is good advice we know; ‘

Careful with words’ is ten times doubly so.

The tongue can be like a scissor-blade for cutting the sweet knot of social intercourse that links you to others. Peace and concord are the gifts of a disciplined tongue. Veracity in speech is the essential condition of cooperation and mutual trust. Do not speak to your superiors in age or ability in a tone of easy familiarity. Cultivate due reverence in speech. Some vain persons claim equality with older or abler or more famous men by speaking of them or to them in a hail-fellow-well-met style.

Remember the law of the "propagation of speech" in Ethics. If you speak harshly to someone, especially to an inferior who cannot answer back, he will inevitably speak harshly to someone else, and this latter person will speak harshly to another, and so on. On the contrary, if you speak sweetly and lovingly to another person, he will do the same in dealing with another, and so on. Thus vibrations of love or hate are set in motion around us. These vibrations are like the waves of the wireless. If your soul were a properly attuned radio set, you could certainly hear how your harsh or sweet words are being repeated and reiterated over and over again in the world. Therefore, avoid rude and harsh speech at all time.

You must act, and build up your influence circle through sweet words. Success will come to you smilingly.