Speech is silver

Speech is silver

There is a proverb which tells us that speech is silver in contrast to silence which is golden. True, of course, but none can deny that speech like silver has certain sterling qualities. It is the currency we use to not only build relationships, but also to maintain and nurture them.

It is largely the power to talk that enables us to convey our feelings, thoughts and ideas to those around us. Many pleasant aspects of life would get diminished if we did not own this powerful tool of communication. However, like all other tools, it has to be used with care. Words can be sharp-edged and hurt as much as they can heal.

Broadly speaking, talk can be divided into three categories. At the ordinary, everyday level, there is what we call the ice-breaker and the small talk.

They constitute the grease that keeps the social wheel turning smoothly. Here, what you say is not quite as important as the fact that you say it. This is because it has the power to make the difference between progress and failure. A cheery ‘Good morning’ or ‘How are you doing?’ may not have great news-value, but it can brighten the day and create goodwill. Similarly, talking about day-to-day routine matters may not add greatly to one’s stock of knowledge, but it succeeds in creating an agreeable atmosphere, thus setting the tone for the day.

Move beyond mere pleasantries and we reach a higher level of talk. More thought enters now, for it is here that two or more personalities meet and interact. What we say now reveals the persons we are. An individual who lacks courtesy and tact is sooner or later avoided. To be taken seriously, one needs to be sincere. To hold another’s attention, one should have a genuine interest in his opinions, feelings and thoughts. Fruitful dialogue can only come when we are in sympathy with the other. Talk, we see, is not a one-way street where only one’s own opinions and feelings matter.

At the highest level, talk is about serious issues, whether it concerns the individual or the world outside. It requires genuine interest as well as attention.

It would be far off the mark to say that ‘words are but wind’. History shows us that they have brought about upheavals of the worst kind. They can break hearts, breed hatred, incite murder and command armies. On the other hand, they can also heal wounds, spread harmony, inspire thinking and elevate the soul.

Talk can certainly not be described as hot air. It makes good sense to take care of what we say, for though words cost nothing, they can indeed mean everything!

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