Words That Hurt, Words That Heal: How to Choose Words Wisely and Well
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Joseph Telushkin is renowned for his warmth, his erudition, and his richly anecdotal insights, and in Words That Hurt, Words That Heal he focuses these gifts on the words we use in public and in private, revealing their tremendous power to shape relationships. With wit and wide-ranging intelligence, Rabbi Telushkin explains the harm in spreading gossip, rumors, or others' secrets, and how unfair anger, excessive criticism, or lying undermines true communication. By sensitizing us to subtleties of speech we may never have considered before, he shows us how to turn every exchange into an opportunity.
Remarkable for its clarity and practicality, Words That Hurt, Words That Heal illuminates the powerful effects we create by what we say and how we say it.
especially those we have trusted to lead us? Are they a special case, or do we have the same ethical obligations toward them? Many journalists would consider public figures to be a special case. As Howard Simons, former managing editor of The Washington Post and a prominent proponent of this view, puts it: “I don’t believe any politician in the United States ought to have a private life.”1 Those who share this view argue that any activity in which a person engages can reveal significant
above him or her. And describing your attempts to change may offer the person the inspiration or some strategies to do the same. If you want someone to be open to your criticism, avoid making blanket statements that demoralize him. Confine your remarks to specific incidents. Critics who use words such as “always” or “never” (“You always mess up everything you touch” or “You never care about anybody except yourself”) in effect compel their listeners to react defensively. What person, the critic
love you, Dr. Fell But why I cannot tell, But this I know full well I do not love you, Dr. Fell. My father interrupted my mother to point out: “That’s a terribly cruel poem. The person who is speaking is being very unfair to Dr. Fell.” Remember: Even in those instances when it’s permissible to spread a negative truth, be specific, be precise, and be fair. In other cases, when the negative information is no one else’s business, let the words of Ben Sira, a wise citizen of ancient Israel,
one concerned with eliminating pollution of our bodies, the other the pollution of our planet. A national “Speak No Evil Day” could work to eliminate the pollution of our emotional atmosphere, the realm in which we interact with others. I envision “Speak No Evil Day” as being observed on May 14, starting in 1996. Indeed, Senators Connie Mack of Florida and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut have introduced a resolution in the U.S. Senate to establish such a day (Appendix for the text of that
cruel jokes, or rumors and malicious gossip, traumatize and destroy many lives; Whereas an unwillingness or inability of many parents to control what they say when angry causes the infliction of often irrevocably damaging verbal abuse on the children; Whereas bigoted words are often used to dehumanize entire religious, racial, and ethnic groups, and inflame hostility in a manner that may lead to physical attacks; Whereas the spreading of negative, often unfair, untrue or exaggerated,